It would be inappropriate to comment...
In actual fact, there is rarely any reason why commenting on an ongoing police investigation will jeopardise anything. And yet when I find myself standing on a cordon guarding a scene of intense public scrutiny, I am usually phoned by the press officer and given one of select few phrases to regurgitate to any passing journalist, including:
- "Police have been called to investigate reports of a disturbance."
- "At 0500hrs, an assault took place. An investigation has been launched."
- "A police incident is taking place and the following roads are closed..."
Through this blog and my book, I've met journalists/editors/producers in print and radio, TV and Internet. I have found them without exception to be reasonable, respectful individuals, albeit often with a different agenda to me. So why are journalists I meet at work so often obstreperous, obstructive and abusive, as opposed to those I meet as PC Ellie Bloggs? I believe it is because Ellie Bloggs tells them the truth about frontline policing, however unpalatable. At work, I tell them only what my employers want me to (which isn't lies, but isn't always the truth).
Of course, I could throw caution to the wind and blurt out whatever I wanted to the press on my cordon. A large part of me wonders if the results would really be as disastrous as the press officer seems to think. Leaving aside cases of ongoing kidnap/terrorism, where we sometimes have to play a tactical game with the media to avert tragedy, when would it really hurt to say: "Well we're looking into the expenses saga because on the face of it, it looks as though some MPs might have acted illegally. We'll keep you posted on what we find." Would this really undermine a future prosecution?
I don't anticipate this kind of frankness appearing in the media any time soon, especially not triggered by the police.
Mr Justice Eady believes that the nation is desirous of "openness and transparency". How ironic that it is the anonymous police bloggers he is trying to shut down who have actually had the more trusted and open relationship with the public.
Our bosses should be taking note, and figuring out how to get this relationship between police and public to work officially.
Thank you to all my visitors this week who have reached me via Woman's Hour. The BBC have loose plans to turn my book into a TV comedy too (to be confirmed), so soon the world will be bombarded with the truth about policing, whether or not Mr Justice Eady approves.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.