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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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Live by the Sword

Episode 4 of Radio 4's dramatisation this week, and Day 4 of my week of daily blogging. If you're new to my blog, which two-thirds of you are, I don't normally talk so much about being a blogger, and you can expect a return to vindictive, pointless sarcasm next week.

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.

PS Daniel Finkelstein obviously didn't appreciate my input on his column yesterday - despite publishing numerous comments critical of The Times, mine didn't make it past moderation... I'm sure it's just an oversight.

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


Anonymous 19 said...

Strangely enough mine didn't make the cut either. Maybe I'll just take to e-mailing Patrick Foster and asking if he think revealing his confidential sources so we can judge their honesty would be on a par with his reasons for unveiling Nightjack. In fact I think I may just ask him every day....

18 June, 2009 16:26

Blogger uniform said...

Frankenstein works for The Times

The Times broke the story

Frankenstein knows what side his ciabatta isn't buttered.

18 June, 2009 17:40

Blogger Inspector Leviathan Hobbes said...

How remarkable, my comments didn't make it past moderation either. If Winkledick wants to know my identity, I'd happily meet him in a dark alley and deliver some summary justice. I could have him, no problem.

I think.

18 June, 2009 18:01

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought they'd blocked mine but it is there now, I posted it yesterday. Idiots!

18 June, 2009 19:23

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm....there are videos etc of police arresting violent suspects and sometimes they do look bad. I've been in very few fights but plenty of physical confrontations playing rugby and stuff. Anybody who knows anything about getting physically aggressive knows that the one sure way to get yourself injured is to hold back. if you go in 100% chances are both you and the person you are trying to subdue are less likely to get injured. if it were down to me the first thing a police officer should do when confronted is nullify the threat. Ie go in as hard as you can.

18 June, 2009 19:35

Anonymous Mac said...

The point's been made somewhere else that NJ was given a written warning by his force which amounts to not much more than a slap on the wrist, so the long term impact on his police career should be minimal. This give other Bloggers some comfort.
The real loss is the removal of the Blog and the fear put into others. (MCM has taken his down I hear).

19 June, 2009 10:24

Anonymous Youth said...

A year's written warning - ie the warning is off his record after 12 months. To me, this is pretty good stuff by Lancs - they clearly support him unofficially, even if they can't do so officially.

19 June, 2009 11:10

Blogger staghounds said...

"If all my opponent wants to do is get away, I am always going to come across as the aggressor, because I am."

EVERY training class I teach, and EVERY Judge or Jury I try a resisting, evading, or assault case before, will hear that. It's such a great and obvious unspoken truth.

Also, there are plenty of sorts of heroism. The Medal of Honor award standards use "above and beyond the call of duty" to distinguish between acts of heroism and mere (!) meritorious performance of expected tasks.

Like it or not, scuffling with the bad people, and getting hurt doing it, are part of the job.

But you go home and make it your business to help the public (and our political masters) avoid being victims, deal with the victimisation experience, understand policing, comprehend law enforcement problems, and maybe take action to improve things.

You also do all these things for your fellow officers.

And there's substantial personal economic risk.

I'm not saying that you're Jesse Covington, but you and other public affairs bloggers do step out above and beyond what's reasonably expected by the job.

It's a shame that talking honestly about your work is beyond expectations, isn't it?

19 June, 2009 14:42

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I Say ol' bean, do yer mind putting on some hand cuffs, you are being videoed "ye no" for customer satisfaction, comfortable are they? jolly good, here be your limo, is it long enough? just hop in and do not bonk yer bleeding head, thanks old chapp, we will now go to your reserved suite for some char and crumpets."
oi vey

19 June, 2009 21:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr M, there is no 'Right of reply', there is no 'right to blog', there is no 'right of freedom'. You can assume to ordain them if you wish, but they will be in your own imaginations and have no bearing on the rest of the world.

24 June, 2009 12:19


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