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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Friday, May 29, 2009

If you didn't believe me...

One of the eternal frustrations of being a police blogger is that no matter how often you say front-line numbers are at an all-time low, it always seems to be a surprise to the public when no one turns up to their call of distress.

Well now Surrey Police are effectively sueing the government by seeking a Judicial Review on the budget cap on the force which is causing a reduction in front-line resources.

This is highly unusual. Chief Constables require the backing of the Police Authority in their area and - to some extent - Whitehall too. A CC who becomes too vocal in the media with anti-government sentiment may well find his/her force subject to a "coincidental" review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. A negative review could result in HMIC coming to take over the force, or the enforced replacement of the CC. It is not necessarily a bad thing that CC's cannot just run wild with their personal opinions, and have to tread a path of compromise. But for the last five years, police bloggers have been increasingly noisy on the subject of front-line numbers. Numbers have always been low, but goodwill no longer carries us through in an environment of worsening pay, erosion of privileges and deteriorating public image. A self-reinforcing cycle, you might think. Us bloggers have been wondering how bad things had to get before senior ACPO ranks would lay their necks on the block to do something about it. Enter Mark Rowley, Chief Constable of Surrey Police.

I don't know CC Mark Rowley, so I don't know how this move is being received within Surrey, but I do know that if the Chief Constable of Blandshire Constabulary were doing this, s/he would be fully supported down on the front line. I'd hazard a guess that the Chief Constable of Blandshire Constabulary will not be following suit. Unfortunately the full support of the front line means more to some than others.

Policing starts and ends on the streets of Blandmore. Whatever model you use, squads you set up or disband, bureaucracy you adopt or surrender, the uniformed response officer remains. Now somebody with longer legs is making a stand for us. Let's see how far he gets.

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


Blogger blueknight said...

The current Govt is all but dead. A fight with the Police is probably the last thing they want, what with everything else going on.
He should go for it.

29 May, 2009 22:21

Anonymous Paul said...

I rather got the impression that the problem was not so much a shortage of resources (staff/money) as their ineffective usage - why 'cut the front line' - why not cut the backroom ?

True story. Most mornings I drive past my local forces spanking new highly expensive bureaucracy central with its reams of offices and antennae on the roof, taking DD to school nearby.

It has a problem. The staffing is increasing so rapidly that all their car parks are used up and staff are spilling over into the supermarket car park opposite.

At least, I presume that's what they are doing. The supermarket car park, at 8:45 AM looks like most others do on Christmas Eve just before closing. Despite being well over half full, there is (almost) no-one in the supermarket, staff or customers. Almost everyone getting out of cars is heading away from the supermarket towards cop HQ.

Conclusion: Bureaucracy is mushrooming in my area ; given the regular pleas of desperation poverty by the "force" in the local press, this is at the expense of the front line officers who actually do something useful.

29 May, 2009 22:39

Blogger Virtual Supply said...

Paul hits the nail on the head. Too many Head Quarters are growing, like mushrooms in an early morning horse field . Ours, (bless ‘em), fills its car parks before 8 in the morning, BMWs, Mercedes, Porches, Hi-end ford pickups. The ‘common’ car park, used by the run of the mill civilians fills quickly, with its Bangers to Bentleys. The Priority parking area (Closer to HQ) fills with more high end vehicles than any car showroom in the area, and a good percentage belong to people in IT, HR, Road Policing, Assassins (sorry, firearms), Business Planning and Corporate Services. The ‘Essential Staff’ car park, attracts the heads of departments, several marked police vehicles used by uniformed heads but rarely taken out, a whole row of covert vehicles with big white stickers on the windscreen stating ‘COVERT VEHICLE, Do Not Use’!

Before you get pissy at me, I am not complaining about all the HQ staff having a nice earner to be able to buy the best motors, I am using the above as an indicator of the greed value of the HQ leeches, to milk the system for all it can get, hundreds of jobs for the boys, you know, been a mediocre copper for 20 plus years, now retires, full pension and on Monday comes back as a civvie in a post that never existed before, but now on a good pension and a Senior Staff Pay Rate. Said ex-copper can still hang out with his mates in the Restaurant snurdling coffee and having such a good time.

Head Quarters thinking they are a Corporate Entity, lapping up the Pounds, Shillings and Pence in their greedy desperate bid to earn more by doing less. This is where the money goes, the money that could be funding more officers on the front line. The money that could be putting more resources on nights so there are less single crewed cars looking after an entire city, missing their refs and getting it in the neck when they failed to spot a huddie skulking in a bush who later went on to burgle Mrs smith and stomp on the poor ladies cat in the process.

HQ is too big, it’s too expensive and ours has lost its way. Ours thinks it is an entire corporate entity, with corporate managers, decision makers, problem brokers, the thinking centre with respect for the people, communication enablers, Community Resource Centres of Excellence, Enhanced Area Management Teams and so on and so forth...

I wish we had a CC with his own head on his shoulders instead of one who thinks he is an important public dignitary, always on the television bleating on about the flavour of the day, telling us how good the last place was he worked at and spending most of his time at the Bramshill Goon Show, (No Point In Asking)


30 May, 2009 09:08

Blogger Hogday said...

Some keen observations in VS's comments above, which I can certainly identify with. I just wondered though, VS, if you stumbled into a firearms incident, would you actually request armed support by using the term `assassin` over the radio?

30 May, 2009 11:08

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

When ever I return to my old force HQ I see loads of people there many of who are on this project that project this working group that working group or have just been promoted to be yet another Ch Insp or Supt at Headquarters-meanwhile you cant even get in to our local nick which seems constantly closed with the venetian blinds drawn against the world outside..

30 May, 2009 11:44

Blogger uniform said...

Yes, but what does he actually want the money for ?

If it is to maintain the myth of neighborhood/PCSO ,Hans Christian Anderson,extended family of policing, then no!

If it really is to ring fence flp 24/7 yes.

We should be told what in explicit detail.

Otherwise I'm a taxpayer too.

30 May, 2009 13:03

Blogger Inspector Leviathan Hobbes said...

It's a damning indictment when, as a serving police officer, an having been the victim of a crime, I haven't bothered calling the police because I knew a) no one would come and b it wouldn't get investigated. There just aren't enough officers to do it thoroughly and, due to Home Counting Rules, the sheer volume of crimes means that officers are inundated with reports. 50 more won't help Surrey much. They won't get out on the street much anyway.

30 May, 2009 13:58

Anonymous R/T said...

VS - I normally want to punch you on the nose but your para 2 is a belter! Thank you.

Ellie - I know Mark Rowley a bit and he always seemed like a decent guy. Mind you - a few ACPO do don't they? I know someone in 45 and they are hopeful that it's a big(gish) step forward.

We'll see, I guess.

30 May, 2009 19:11

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets hope it is the start of a new dawn,

bloody doubt it tho

30 May, 2009 21:38

Blogger Colin D said...

Back in December last year, I reported via 999 that I had been robbed, my credit cards taken et hoc. The operator told me it wasn't an emergency although she would take the call.
I day or two later I got a back up telephone call and was given a crime number. I have since lost that as well. O well no news on all of my lost property and I suppose the 4 PCSO I saw on the offending High Street are still doing their risk assessments?

No rude suggestions please but what should I have done with the crime number? I am a fragile individual in my 70th year

31 May, 2009 16:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Rowley is well respected and a decent and committed chief constable in Surrey.
I wish him the best of luck for making a stand here.

31 May, 2009 22:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bit more info pls Colin?
Was it a robbery, in the technical sense of a theft with violence or threat of violence directed at you, or 'just' a theft (where no-one threatend you, but you were pickpocketed, say, or left your wallet in your car and had it lifted)?
Not saying in either case a crime number was sufficient, just need more info.

01 June, 2009 11:42

Blogger uniform said...

anon @ 22:23

thank you Chief's bag man

The promotion to Superintendent is now assured.

Chin chin, Martini anyone?

01 June, 2009 20:44

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04 June, 2009 06:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify, the act of insanity which has set Mr Rowley off is this: We have to reduce our income from council tax by 1.2 million pounds. Re-billing the people of Surrey carries an administrative cost of 1.6 million pounds. Given that we have already coped (well!) with vicious cuts in the last couple of years, it's this final act of insanity that's sent Mr Rowley off the deep end.

We're already feeling the pinch on the front line, but when we inevitably fail the people of Surrey they do not complain to their MP but to poor hard-working call-takers, PCs and PCSOs.

I don't know him well, but he seems to make a lot of sense and I support him. Interestingly, he has made it clear that Surrey officers and staff can talk openly with the public about these issues.

05 June, 2009 15:32

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can fully support the deletion of obscenity, libel or offensive comment. However, the deletion of my fair right to reply, constituting no more than the short explanatory response to Lawyer type above, is as difficult to justify as it is easy to equate to the police blog equivalent of taser abuse.

Was it not you, Ellie, professing to support and admire free expression and openness with the public?

If it be the case that fair and just comments embarrass a personal agenda sculpted for approval by Radio 4 producers, please qualify your version of openness with the public if it is something other than hypocrisy.

23 June, 2009 20:42

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