Live by the Sword
I read in The Telegraph today blogging described as an art form, and anonymous public sector bloggers depicted as brave wandering heroes of the Internet. I never thought of myself that way, but I will buy a scabbard immediately. I doubt very much that any public sector blogger went into it to achieve hero status, and most of us try very hard to come across as bog standard examples of our profession. It has been surprising and gratifying to read the flood of public support for Nightjack's predicament, and I think it's fair to say that if the public were this supportive of the police in general, most police bloggers wouldn't feel the need to exist.
They aren't supportive, because the public aren't stupid, and they know they're not getting the full story from politicians and police chiefs. Bloggers aren't appreciated by those who believe facts should be diluted and prepared for public consumption, as if poor old Britain should be protected from the nasty mean truth.
In 'Diary...' today, you can hear me single-handedly attempt to take out a vicious robber, resulting in a pile of thrashing police and robber limbs. One of the dilemmas for police, and the situation that often results in headlines of "brutality", is that in 90% of violent confrontations, two unavoidable facts make our input less than effective:
1) We only want to arrest the person, we don't want to hurt them.
2) They want to get away far more than we want to stop them.
As a lone, somewhat lightweight female with minimal training in combat, it simply isn't possible for me to effect an arrest of someone who doesn't want to be arrested, not without severely swinging the odds in my favour. I'm not a cage fighter (you'll be disappointed to hear), and I don't go into combat situations wanting a "fair fight", but only when necessary and when I expect to win. This means swinging the odds in my favour with a baton strike, deploying my incapacitant spray, or a serious amount of punching/kicking. If all my opponent wants to do is get away, I am always going to come across as the aggressor, because I am.
The fact is, it can be a frightening business policing the streets alone. I enjoy it, and I think all police officers should be capable of lone patrol and able to handle themselves until back-up comes. But most of us didn't join the job to get our faces kicked in, and we face that prospect with the full knowledge of little support from the public or the criminal justice system.
It is that knowledge that leads us to blog, in an attempt to remedy one or other situation. I am most grateful for the support of my readers, and I hope some day it will translate into support from my 'customers' too.
But it's worth keeping a perspective. What we do off-duty is not heroic, it is informative and (hopefully) entertaining. What we are sometimes asked to do on-duty is where the fabric of our hero status is tested.
PC Gemma Maggs:
What "Living by the Sword" really means.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.