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, August 28, 2009

Golden Umbrellas

My blog has now been running for three years and twenty-two days. I missed the anniversary because I took it upon myself to accomplish diversity in the workplace at the start of August and it took me rather longer than I expected.

Looking back at my early posts, they could all have been printed this week. In fact, if I run out of inspiration for what to write, perhaps I will just re-print them.

I've noticed a few changes in my blog since the start. For example, I used capitals an awful lot back then. Now I sometimes forget even to start a sentence with a capital. I also used to blog more frequently, perhaps feeling that if I talked about them enough, things might change. Now I accept that I blog solely for myself and my readers, and not with any dream of world revolution.

If you apply those two changes to the way I police, I guess it's changed in pretty much the same way.

I'm occasionally asked if there's a conflict between blogging and policing. By contrast, I think that blogging has got me through some tough weeks and months at work, and that work has got me through some tough weeks' blogging. There's no real overlap, but definitely a complementary relationship of some kind. Still, if I'm going to continue the blog, I think it's time to take it in a new direction.

As my readers will know, I've toyed with mention of promotion, and in fact started the lengthy process some time ago. The main thing standing between a brash young PC and his/her stripes is some Acting experience. This is when you get promoted, take on all the responsibility and get paid the salary of a sergeant, but can be demoted or moved at any time with no right of appeal. As you might imagine, this somewhat limits your opportunities to be open, frank and take risks.

Therefore, to stand a chance of survival in this cut-throat world, I must henceforth cease any discussion of rebellion on the frontline and promote only my force's values and strategic aims. And so I make these solemn promises:
  • To always show how professional and jolly police officers are, and how rosy everything is in the world of criminal justice.
  • To use the word 'umbrella' in a management context a lot more often.
Things are changing.

Watch this space.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just One Crime

Apparently 1000 of London's CCTV cameras solved only one crime last year.

This statistic amazes me. CCTV is pretty much a requisite of any prosecution in Blandmore whatsoever, regardless of the offence. You need only mention to the crown prosecutor to whom you are "selling" your case that the CCTV in a shop/street/dwelling was down/out/non-existent, to see a great sigh appear on their face and a big red pen cross out your hope of a conviction.

The court system in this country is adversarial, which means both sides argue their case to a normal bunch of people and take an approach of "Who's right? YOU decide!" You would think, under this system, that the credibility, articulation and motivation of a witness would be crucial, and that if they were essentially compelling and had no real reason to lie, their evidence would carry as much weight as forensics or CCTV - both of which can be misleading or hold partial truths.

But the world of the court-room has changed and it is now a commonly held fact that if it wasn't caught on camera, IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Which is why more and more police officers are walking around with cameras in their coats to prove just how often they get shoved about and spat on. They have only themselves to blame if their camera fails to record one such incident and cannot really expect anyone to be brought to justice.

In another few years, I wonder how we'll ever detect any crime at all.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Victim vs Customer

I've moaned a bit about victim focus recently. Mainly because the Senior Management have been moaning about it, and they tend to delete my email diatribes without responding - whereas they can't delete this without some serious effort and court injunctions.

The problem is that whenever frontline police officers moan about Victim Focus, it sounds like we hate victims and want them to die.

The truth is, we moan because the language of the government and Senior Management team assumes that the majority of our 'customers' are the same thing as 'victims'. They aren't. Victims of 'volume' crime* are generally bog standard, middle/low income, hardworking taxpayers. For these people, being burgled, having their car broken into, God forbid being mugged or having their kids being beaten up at school, are jaw-aching, heart-crushing blows in their already precarious uphill struggle of life. The chances of getting satisfaction over their burglar/thief/mugger/bully are virtually nil.

So instead, we concentrate on our 'customers'. To identify whether you are a customer of Blandshire Police, please fill out the following questionnaire:

1. A night out clubbing should involve:
A. Beer, kebabs, dancing, and late into work the next day.
B. Beer, kebabs, dancing, being put in a taxi by friends and carried into bed.
C. Beer, kebabs, dancing, begging the police for a ride home whilst vomiting on their boots, then putting in a complaint when they arrest you for punching the guy who looked at your girlfriend funny.

2. Complete the following sentence: "I know where my kids are..."
A. "All the time"
B. "Most of the time"
C. "Never, but the police will find them for me when I want"

3. If you saw a terrible crime that scared and worried you, so that you called the police, would you then:
A. Watch and wait until the police arrive, then tell them what happened.
B. Agree to be seen at a later date to give a statement.
C. Phone fifteen times demanding why the police haven't turned up yet, then just as they're on their way vacate your house to go out drinking and in the morning tell them you really can't be bothered to give a statement as what's the point.

4. What are the key ingredients of a good relationship?
A. Compromise, love, trust.
B. Loud fights and make-up sex.
C. Waking the neighbours; screaming and crying; strings of obscene text messages; 999 calls over who let the dog out; stabbing, punching and throttling each other; and ultimately, the ability to unite together physically against the police officer that both of you asked round to sort the whole thing out.

5. If your child was arrested, and you had to attend the police station for their interview, how would you conduct yourself?
A. Politely but furiously attend and tell your wayward child to cooperate in every possible way, apologise to the police and ground said child for a month.
B. Resign yourself to a long night and quietly get on with it.
C. Down two bottles of wine as soon as you hear the news, then turn up demanding to see your little angel immediately. You'll have a family friend in tow who's just embarking on a law course and expect them to act as your child's solicitor. Every police officer involved in the case will have a complaint made against them, and when you are told firmly that because you have turned up drunk your child will have to be bailed and interviewed another time, you tell the police they are pathetic and throw a brick through the front window on your way out.

And finally...
6. If you went into the police station to ask whether your lost handbag had been handed in, how would you expect the enquiry to go?
A. You leave your name and address at the counter just in case, and thank the clerk.
B. You receive your lost bag, intact with all its contents.
C. You discover it's not there and demand to see someone more senior, then start shouting and swearing in the foyer, insisting that you will make a complaint. When some police arrive, you take off your stilletoes and batter the officers round the face until you are carted off to the cells in leg restraints.

Real victims will answer mainly A. Blandshire Constabulary customers will find themselves answering mainly C. Who do you think takes up more of our time?

Victim Focus, for all it's dressed up to be, is about trying to stop our customers ruining our crime figures without getting their stories printed in the Mail.

* er, that is, crime happening in large volumes and forming the bulk of our crime stats

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

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How not to get fired

I have been reading Times Online's account of the tribunal of ex-PC Alison Wheeler, who was apparently fired for incompetence and lack of courage.

I am appalled: I can safely say that Blandshire Constabulary has never fired anyone for anything as trivial as showing a lack of courage. And even officers displaying extreme incompetence from their first day on patrol, throughout and beyond their probationary period, are able to continue policing for as long as they want without anyone saying a word.

There are some sure ways to ensure you get the attention of Blandshire's Professional Standards Department, but cowardice and incompetence are not two of them.

If you do aspire to be dismissed by the force, in the hopes of bringing a lucrative appeal against it, here are some methods you could try:
  • Drug-dealing and prostitution are sure fire winners.
  • Try a gentle bit of waterboarding. The sink in the disabled loo in custody is probably your best bet, and if you leave the door open at the right angle the mirror will reflect your misdemeanour straight into the CCTV camera.
  • Crashing your panda car in a dramatic manner is a definite way of drawing PSD's fire, but do bear in mind if you have a colleague in the passenger seat they may well be dismissed along with you, for failing to tell you to apply the brakes.
  • Sex on duty brings a strong possibility of dismissal, but it's risky: you might get promoted instead.
Of course, the truth is that for most of us the above are far too hardcore. It turns out, it's not that easy to get fired. Here are some methods you might have thought were no-brainers that will certainly NOT work:
  • Operate a police force with less than a safe level of staff, ignoring all pleas from the frontline to increase resources. Then tell the public everything's ok.
  • Show absolute disregard for the rules of evidence and arrest people left, right and centre under the banner of 'risk management'.
  • Spend millions of taxpayer's pounds generating spreadsheets and pie-charts full of utterly worthless information.
  • Lie flagrantly to the locals that crime is falling and their area has never been safer.
  • Foster an atmosphere of bureaucratic jobsworthiness that seeps into everything and everyone until the moral fabric of society has decayed into a sodden mess. Then iron it.

Stay safe out there...

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

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Victim Focus Dance

The public at large may be surprised to hear that the police nowadays are entirely VICTIM-FOCUSED. In fact, Blandshire Constabulary is so victim-focused that it pays a lot of people to draft victim focus policies, carry out victim focus surveys, and monitor how many uniformed front-line coppers are really as focused on victims as they should be.

Then, every morning, the superintendent chairs a meeting where he demands to know how each officer on duty the night before focused on victims, how many numbers have been generated proving it, and whether there are any victims still out of focus that could be addressed later that day.

"We're gonna find that pesky victim, wherever he's hiding, and focus on him whether he likes it or not!"

The golden rules of Victim Focus (sent to us daily as an attachment in every cheery email from the superintendent, thereby filling up my inbox so that emails I want to receive such as replies about whether or not I have annual leave or crucial information about upcoming court cases cannot get through aboutwhichIamnotevenslightlybitter) are:
  • All officers secretly hate victims and want them to die. Blandshire Constabulary's job is to stifle these impulses.
  • It's about victims, so it's not performance culture.
  • When the word 'victim' is mentioned, the rules of evidence and procedure cease to exist.
  • Even where a crime has no known victim, the victim has given false details or told the police to fuck off, a surprising amount of resources can be used to focus on that victim from afar without his/her permission.

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


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