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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Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't panic, but you're all going to die

Here are some things I am NOT trained to say when taking charge as Bronze Commander at the scene of an emergency:
Fortunately, as passengers languished trapped in the Eurotunnel, three British bobbies came to their rescue: PC Chris Sedgwick, PC Caroline Lowe and PS Anton Menzies took control and began to evacuate people who thought their train had been hit by a bomb. At one stage one of them may or may not have shouted "women and children first" (just what you want to hear at a time like that). Although if you check out web forums it appears that may have been shouted by a random passer-by. So what do I know.

As an Acting Sergeant, I may well be called upon to take initial control in situations ranging from bridge collapse to explosions to hostage-takings. I will be surrounded by the panicking public, all eyes looking to me to solve the crisis. Perhaps relief even in the eyes of my PCs as I roll up. On the plus side, having something to do will prevent me panicking, and I do like being the centre of attention. On the negative, I have no extra training whatsoever to equip me for this challenge.

All one can do in this situation is hope that I make all my mistakes at the incidents where no one dies as a result, so that when the true disaster strikes, I am ready. In my endeavours I will rely on the experience of my senior PCs (some of them have a whopping three years' service!), and the backing and back-up of my inspector. I'll learn, on the job, in the only role in the police where that still applies.

Of course, seeing as my senior managers have been police officers themselves for years, and understand fully the pressures on new inexperienced sergeants on the front-line, I'm sure I'll have all the support I need...

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol yeah they'll back you to the hilt... of the dagger plunged in to your back with "SMT" etched into the blade when it goes tits up.

Then they will jump out of the nearest window whilst an enquiry goes on only to emerge again to set light to the pile of (hindsight corrected incident) logs they have placed under your body when sacrificing you to the great God of "Public Relations".

Oh then when you have been sent to Prison they will speak of you to the media only to ensure that no mention of any of your years of hard dedicated work come to light.

On a similar note I hear that John Doogle is being allowed a few days out of prison to see his family this Christmas. Glad to hear it. Merry Christmas.

Plod Against the Machine

21 December, 2009 18:16

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disasters are when one finds heroes and cowards alike. Anyone can replay the playbook but it takes using the brain to take over and find the correct solution.
It be call thinking, not repeating memorized bits. From your blog I dothe think you will come up with a winning solution.
Exams give a+s to best memory , rarely to the best answer to the problem.

21 December, 2009 21:19

Anonymous MarkUK said...

Well done to the three police officers who took charge. However, let's not forget Paramedic Gavin Hewson too.

We are lucky in the UK that our emergency services are not only trained to a professional level, but that they behave like professionals too. We're not alone in this (check out the USA) but it's far from universal.

21 December, 2009 21:32

Blogger English Pensioner said...

From personal experience, in a totally different field but still where lives were involved, I would say that for most people their instinct and common sense takes over if they are in the position of responsibility. Training tends to envisage a limited number of circumstances which are unlikely to occur in practice, simply because if they have been envisaged, steps would already have been put in place to minimise the possibility of them occurring.

21 December, 2009 21:49

Blogger Oscar said...

I think the IPCC should be called AT ONCE to investigate something.

They are always called, thus in this occasion those 3 PO's must have done something wrong.

21 December, 2009 23:15

Blogger Crime Analyst said...



Please spare a thought this Christmas for the lads and lasses who will be doing their very best to ensure we all enjoy a safe and peaceful christmas – the police officers who will be working while we enjoy our rest over Christmas. Spare them a kind thought and send them your best wishes. We pray that your shifts pass peacefully and that you are able to enjoy some special festive times with your families and loved ones.

A special thank you goes out to the unsung heroes of police blogging this year and the years that have gone before. Having worked long, hard challenging shifts, dealing with the worst society can throw at them, they find the time and energy to write their articles, share their experiences, with a great passion for “What’s right” and delivered in the most part, with good humour.

Thank you to one and all, you know who you are, for all your fine efforts. We look forward to plenty more and perhaps some well deserved reforms for you in 2010.

With best wishes
Steve & The Team
Nice 1 Limited

21 December, 2009 23:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read more soon.

22 December, 2009 09:11

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

If you've never made a mistake, then you've never made a decision.

22 December, 2009 12:55

Anonymous Mac said...

Contary to the first comment, my experience has always been that actually senior management are usually very supportive of staff, particularly Sergeants, who deal with spontaneous crises in good faith and with the professionalism that comes to the fore in these situations. Hence the way commendations are routinely handed out for CPR, dealing with suicides etc. I think it's because there is an element of reflected glory plus no danger to their career by admitting you work for them. Strangely the public are exactly the same. One day you're a hero, the next a lazy waste of taxpayers money (unless you die, in which case you'll be a hero for about a day and then forgotten completely the next).
It's where the crisis is of the police's own making (usually down to poor policy making or mis management) that the managers all start reaching for the knife.....

22 December, 2009 17:34

Anonymous ginnersinner said...

I hope someone spoke to those three officers about being on patrol in the same carriage at the same time. Don't they know it's single patrols from now on?

22 December, 2009 22:44

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Mac, I don't know where you work or where you heard about those regular commendations but I've never seen it. According to our SMT as response officers everything we would normally deal with in that capacity is our job and not worthy of a commendation. If I was a shiny arsed bastard and worked in duties or the warrants office and dealt with something you seem to suggest to be commendation worthy on my bi-annual visit to the streets, then I'd probably be in luck. As a normal response PC we get sod all recognition and get thrown to the wolves if we make a mistake or if the morning SMT shudder meeting thinks we did something wrong. Merry Christmas though.

23 December, 2009 11:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac.. It must be nice mate to recieve commendations for hard work. Unfortunatly as my 1st post suggests my experience is that I just get shat on regulary. I go to 100's of jobs and work hard and do things well. The only ones I hear about are the ones that people ring up to complain about (and lets face it they do at a drop of a hat). Examples are:-

Ask a suspected peadophile to leave a family centre full of kids.. Complaint of incivility.

Dag a man over the railings to safety as he tries to throw himself off a bridge.... Nothing mentioned.

Arrest a violent sexual predator for a sexual assault and gather enough evidence for him to admit the offence and be sent to prison... Nothing mentioned.

Do a routine missing person enquiry for a vulnerable child at an address of a family member... Recieve a complaint as I woke them up at an unsociable hour.

You could not make this shit up. It wears good hard working officers down to unmotivated bitter cynics.


23 December, 2009 15:49

Anonymous Mac said...


I guess it just comes down to individual bosses. At the moment the CCMT are falling over themselves to thank everyone for the efforts being made in this weather. Shame it's by Email and not in person but that would be asking for jam on it!! Your examples here would go as follows. (all are either exactly like or very similar to ones I or any of my teams have dealt with).
1. I would be the Inspector taking the complaint. The peado and I would have an arguement on the phone and he would make a complaint against me. I get interviewed and nothing more heard. (Very close to a recent scenario).
2. I have received a Chief's commendation for exactly that scenario. (A few years back admittedly). At the ceremony there were several others for really frightening examples of bravery and good bits of detective work etc. Then about 6 people got one for doing a good bit of planning work and all around the room you could hear friends and family of other recpients muttering 'WTF?' or words to that effect.
3. I make a point of highlighting good work like that 'up the tree' so it gets acknowledged
4. I speak to the complainants and explain politely and professionally that sometimes we have to inconvenience people for a greater good and that if it were their family they would expect us to pull out all the stops (complaints about the helicopter fall into that category!)the officer then gets a pat on the back from me for not letting fear of a complaint preventing them doing the right thing.

There is a world of different between getting a complaint and it being upheld. I suppose I can only speak for myself but I treat each one completely on it's own merits and and have done everything from throwing complainants out of the station to sticking officers on when justified.

Sorry this has got a bit long winded but my point was that the example Bloggsy was making is actually the only time in your career when the default setting for the SMT/CCMT is to dish out praise. That aside I agree with every point you and MCM made.

Sorry Bloggsy for highjacking your blog, I'll shut up now!

23 December, 2009 17:11

Anonymous Tom said...

Shame the train didn't crash and burn.

Would of been 3 less coppers in the world, think about it...less competition for detections!


23 December, 2009 19:04

Anonymous Nottssarge said...

MCM - Nice to see there are some bosses who place common sense before self-advancement or, heaven forbid, criticism. I'm pleased to say I work with a few like you, sadly it's the fact you're in a minority that makes you stand out.

On the other hand, I have to side with the critics of the commendation farce. I know people who are well-deserving of their recognition, but the vast majority seem to be 'teachers pet' types who are in some narrow field. My pet hate is always at the conclusion of murder trials, where the Judge commends the homicide detectives, who, in turn, get a job commendation. Well I may have this wrong, but if you're a homicide detective, aren't you just doing your job? I'm sure the hours, effort and work go in, but that would also be true if you were a Response cop, surely. By the same standard, nicking burglars at scene is surely commendable. As ever, it's the ill-considered and ridiculous ones that undermine the validity of the whole process.

Emergencies and crises are what we do best though, there's nothing like a bit of strength in adversity. And on that note, Merry Xmas to my fellow bloggers, especially those working afternoons on Christmas Day. Nobody say the 'q' word!

23 December, 2009 19:08

Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Have a very happy Christmas PC Bloggs, and well done for continuing with your blog.

23 December, 2009 22:45

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Hm, Mac, not sure I was talking about incidents such as CPR etc - though it's nice to know you take the time to highlight these incidents upwards although do you know if the SMT bother to act on your information? If mine do, it's usually weeks or months later when you've given up on any recognition and it just irritates. So maybe we don't work in the same area after all... although I did get an email lately praising my effort in managing to come into work this week, as if I'd battled cancer or something.

But what I really meant that as an acting sergeant with no training, you are pretty much thrown out there and are bound to make mistakes. You just have to hope they're not disastrous ones, and that your inspector/SMT doesn't write you off for a few early mistakes but recognises you might still be a good skipper in the making. What you want as a skipper is guidance at the time, feedback later, and ongoing support. And someone higher up willing to stand up to the media and IPCC. Not something I've seen yet, though if anyone can point me in the direction of a Chief quoted as saying, "I'm disgusted by the IPCC's conclusion and support my front-line officers fully in this case," then please do...

23 December, 2009 22:47

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Oh we posted simultaneously - thank you Ellee glad you still stop by :-)

23 December, 2009 22:47

Anonymous Mac said...


I wasn't going to take up any more space but in answer to your question, it varies. One Superintendent always drops a line to the officer and if the opportunity arises will make a point of mentioning it in person to the officer at shift briefing. Unfortunately others won't even acknowledge the Email, but my theory is that at least it raises the profile of the PC/Sgt the next time they are applying for a board etc. as I copy several people in.
As far as support goes, the one thing that can't be created is the desire to do a good job and acting in 'good faith'. Everything else can be taught or learnt through experience and you seem to have the first two in spades. Whether you get the chance to develop the rest is down to the luck of the draw with your Inspector but the risk averse corporate robots tend not to stay on shift very long so you just have to outlast them!
As far as praise/support goes, when is the last time anything a member of the CCMT or politician said, positive or negative, made the slightest difference to your daily working life. My attitude is to only worry about the opinion of people up to two ranks higher. Higher than that is irrelevant. (IE when I was a PC my world ended with the Inspector, now it ends with the Superintendent). Always care about the opinion of those you supervise but never make it a popularity contest because you can never be all things to all people.
Obviously if you're planning to be Chief Constable in the next ten years there's a different game to play but I can't help you there.

Christ, Another sermon! Sorry, I'll get my coat.

24 December, 2009 15:37

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14 January, 2010 00:52

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17 January, 2010 22:44


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