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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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Banging my head...

In my book, I describe the bizarre and inexplicable situation of Colin Roach, a 14-year-old sex offender being housed in social care accommodation whereby he lives in a room next to other 14-year-old sex offenders and is free to barge past the staff and leg it through the "secure" door any time he wants to buy cigarettes or prowl into the park and start grooming his next victim. We're not talking about minor sexual assaults on same-age kids by a mixed up teen. This is someone who rapes eight-year-olds.

This kind of "secure" housing isn't widely reported on in the press, nor is the fact that Colin Roach goes "missing" from his secure accommodation approximately 10 times a month and takes up as many hours of police time on each occasion.

There has, however, been some press on the equally pathetic state of the country's bail hostels. These are places where people pending Crown Court trial, or released on licence following jail sentences, can be housed to monitor their activities more closely than just letting them free into society. Bail hostels tend to have rules, such as:
  • Residents must live here.
  • Residents must not abuse staff.
  • Residents should not commit crime.
If the rules are breached, the resident can potentially end up remanded in custody pending trial, or back in prison serving the remainder of their sentence. Which is great, because at the moment the resident disappears from the hostel with all his/her possessions to an unknown location, the police can immedaitely spend the next few weeks looking for them in said (unknown) location.

Blandmore has several bail hostels, the main one being North Ridge. The residents are mainly convicted robbers, burglars and violent offenders out early before the end of their sentences to make room in prison. There isn't any room for the kind of "low risk" offenders that are supposed to be housed in the hostels, so they are just released without any residence conditions at all.

With a building stuffed full of society's most hardened felons, is it any wonder that we are called up there twice a week to take people back to prison for breaching the rules and/or threatening/assaulting staff? Why are people surprised that convicted recidivist offenders carry on committing crimes when housed (free) in accommodation little different to a cheap roadside hotel? In what way can the residents' crimes be blamed on the bail hostels expected to restrain them with no staff, no powers and no support from the Criminal Justice System?

If the prison system and courts tolerate violent and persistent offenders being freed to offend again, then it makes no difference if they are housed in a bail hostel or next door to you in a three bed semi. If they want to offend again they will. By the same token if someone's time has been served and it was deemed appropriate for their crime, there is no choice BUT to free them into society.

The trick is getting their sentence right in the first place. It's not rocket science.

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


Blogger Nationalist said...

I'm surprised there's no come back on staff when a sex offender escapes from secure accommodation - clearly they have failed in their duty.

However it seems the police could put pressure on them simply by going large on the news. Call a press conference; say a dangerous child-rapist is at large; issue a description; say he's not be approached; tell schools to be on the look out, etc.

By the time you had publicised two or three escapes from the same facility heads would have rolled and staff would have bucked their ideas up (and SMT shamed into action.)

30 November, 2009 16:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well at least ours has good CCTV.Which obviously solves ALL crimes and means that when said felon does a runner I can tell what he was wearing... 8 hours ago.

With such quality evidence like that how does it take so long for us to find them in an urban conabation containing several million people, I do not know??.


30 November, 2009 17:51

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

Nationalist you miss the point the SMT can't do anything (which might increase the fear of crime)

More importantly anything that goes wrong in the criminal justice system is always blamed on the police, very few people understand that there is a whole gambit of organisations who have a role.

Quite simply read Dalrymple as officers all know PRISON Works, if they are all full build more!

It is very difficult to rob a granny or break into a house whilst detained in a 6x8 cell, this is primarily how prison works.

30 November, 2009 21:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right with a lot you say, but look at what this poor bugger goes through. Funny to read, but not funny if you are living through it.

01 December, 2009 14:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah - read the last entry... all my own work...

01 December, 2009 17:58

Blogger Hogday said...

Our crime unit manager regularly tore lumps of hair out over one of these privately owned hostels (licence to print money) on my old area. The piece de resistance was finding a convicted but recently released (less than halfway through a 7 year sentence) paedophile, housed in a room between two single mums and their, respective, 6 and 8yr old son and daughter. So much for the multi-agency approach.

01 December, 2009 18:51

Blogger blueknight said...

On a lesser level, we could not understand why there was a meteoric rise in cars being TDA'd. Until finding an abandoned stolen car in the street, an elderly resident pointed to the address where the thief had gone. we quickly found out that a 16 yr old joyrider from another town had been moved to guest house in our area in a vain attempt to reduce his offending. (Because all his friends were in the other town?)It did not work because one of our local car thieves was living in the guest house as well. They compared notes and the rest as they say was history

02 December, 2009 22:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

* Oh, to be in England
* Now that April's there,
* And whoever wakes in England
* Sees, some morning, unaware,
* That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
* Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf
* Round the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
* In England - now!
Gone like the elm tree, the gypsy moth hath taken over.

03 December, 2009 03:35

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you need to use the term "bail hostel" carefully.

Whilst the properties run by Clearsprings are of significant concern to those of us within the Probation service, the Probation-run "bail" hostels (which are in fact "approved premises" which are now only used for high risk cases out on licence, rather than as bail accommodation) are generally of a good standard and risk-managed well. The law dictates that we MUST release all offenders at their half-way point, one of the best ways to manage their risk in the community is to know where they are and when.

Clearsprings should only be for those low risk, suitable cases - on bail and residence whilst on home detention curfew. Certainly that's the case I've found in my Probation area.
But being low-risk doesn't mean you're going to be compliant with the rules. And the supervision at these address' is truly awful - no full-time staff member on duty (they argue the curfew means it doesn't require it), no monitoring and no assessment of the other residents suitability. They really are just there for financial gain.

06 December, 2009 19:40

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there's no come back on staff when a sex offender escapes from secure accommodation - clearly they have failed in their duty.

The problem there is the word "secure". Once somebody's released on licence there's no way to follow and manage them 24/7. Probation can only work to the best risk-management standards they have. Which generally they do. Even then, there is always a review into how the case was managed. Having been through it (a serious further offence review) myself, it's an extremely stressful process and there are consequences if you have failed in your duty anywhere along the line.

06 December, 2009 19:45

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19 January, 2010 16:01


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