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, December 31, 2009

Just Lock Up Baddies

I am relieved to find out today that according to Jack Straw, I am not overworked after all. It turns out I rather like staying indoors tucked up in the warm with my paperwork.

The evidence for this is that "some forces do very much better than others" and it is therefore a matter of "culture and discipline" if we're snowed under with paperwork. As it happens, I totally agree with Mr Straw. My force, for example, is one of the best in the country at recording crime, auditing custody records and thinking up new ways to keep criminals out of court. The culture of Blandshire Constabulary is to meet targets, provide a never-ending audit trail of everything we do, and produce endless reports and policies explaining how it's never our fault if someone dies. All under the banner of "No Targets. Just Lock Up Baddies." * As a result of our efforts, Blandshire is rated pretty highly at the moment.

Funnily enough, what activities do you suppose are the ones that keep police officers tucked up indoors in the warmth? Might they perchance include auditing/audit-trail-creating and policy-writing? Might they include attending strategy and risk assessment meetings, pie-chart creation and poster design?

Police officers don't care about having to fill out forms, complete files and write lengthy statements, where they are clearly vital pieces of evidence forming part of an investigation. We care about having to do these things, plus a dozen others, for no good reason whatsoever. We care about doing things in order to tick boxes that trick people like Jack Straw into thinking that our force is one of the ones that is "up for it... really motoring".

Here's an officer who nicked someone to get tucked up in the warm.
(Scroll to about 3min in if you get bored)

I know where the Justice Secretary drew his conclusions about police officers wanting to stay in the warmth. All over police blogs, in the papers and in the canteens (the ones that are still open), officers have a language that includes talking about "nicking someone to get back inside in the warm", or "tucking ourselves up with a file for a couple of hours and a cup of tea". My book is full of anecdotes about trying to get off the streets and into a plate of cookies. Well there's one anecdote like that. These stories and this language are part and parcel of a job that should entail being 90% ON the streets and OUT in the cold - that's why we talk about it so much.

So Jack Straw's comments are insulting on a number of levels:
Because they infer that his government's way of measuring successful forces bears an actual relationship to reality.
Because he has utterly missed the point of what frustrates officers about the bureaucratic culture in Britain.
Because he has inferred that front-line police officers have some kind of control over how they spend the majority of their time.
Because he has unwittingly (or God forbid wittingly) echoed the deep feelings of a portion of society who always suspected police officers might secretly enjoy paperwork.
Finally, because he seems to have no clue, despite his position, what life is really like for a front-line bobby under his government.

If his are the words of the man partly responsible for choosing the way forward for the British police force, what hope is there?

Happy New Year, Mr Straw. I'm working.**

* This slogan has never and will never feature in a Blandshire Constabulary propaganda campaign. Because there are and we can't.
** By the words "I'm working", one should not infer that I am, at the time of writing, working. Merely it is meant to imply and inform my good reader that I will be, over the festive period, working some or all of the hours of the bank holiday day/days/nights.

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


Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Yep, it's really fun getting a couple of bodies at the beginning of the shift then getting all the statements, completing the crime report, doing bail enquiries, checking the nafis prints and pnc, watching and seizing all the CCTV to make sure it tallies with witness statements, completing the handover pack and then running everything through the sgt so you can hand the job over without facing the wrath of the early turn because you missed something. And as you're doing that you're listening to the jobs coming out on the radio and hearing your mates request assistance that you know just isn't there because you along with everyone else with a bod are tucked up. Yep, we want to do that. Jack Straw is a fucking clueless, obtuse and obstinate prick.

31 December, 2009 17:59

Anonymous Martin said...

I wonder what Jack Straw's police protection unit are thinking.

Can Jack Straw look them in the eye after this.

31 December, 2009 18:11

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Probably the same as Jacqui Smiths - they all hated her.

31 December, 2009 18:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thing is, Straw probably wouldn't recognise an MG file if it bashed him on the head.

Now THERE is a happy thought.....

31 December, 2009 18:52

Blogger Crime Analyst said...

How stupid and out of touch is this bloke and his party? Slash the overtime budget, open door immigration with 14% of our prisons overcrowded with foreign nationals, a criminal justice system that's on life support, single manning and now he accuses coppers of preferring a nice cosy nick with a warm cup of tea to locking villains up. The blokes lost the plot as well as any vestages of hope for police support!

Ok, every job has its shirkers, but they're certainly not in the majority. A bloke in his position is totally irresponsible making such public statements. Any shirkers that do exist should be dealt with discreetly by supervision NOT by public media trial. And this idiot heads up the gang that say the only true measure of performance is by increasing public confidence, and pushing a policing pledge that promises officers on the street 80% of the time. Yeah well Jack, you really know how to inspire public confidence don't you? What a complete and utter pillock.

The Independent seem to have captured the feelings best :-


Simon Reed, the vice-chair of the Police Federation, said that Mr Straw's remarks were "irresponsible and inflamatory". He added: "It was not not police officers who brought in 3,000 new laws. It wasn't police officers who brought in a 30-page prosecution file. And it wasn't police officers who brought in multiple forms and authorities to use a pair of binoculars. This was all done by politicians. Police officers are not the architects of bureaucracy, they and the public are the victims of it."

Mr Reed said that he had received messages of anger from officers around the country following the broadcast, adding: "New Year's Eve is probably our busiest night of the year and for police officers to hear that from a politician who will be in the warm while they are out dealing with violent and drunken individuals will upset a lot of officers.

"I've had emails from various officers telling me how outraged they are. Many of them have mentioned the name of PC Bill Barker who died protecting the public during the floods in Cumbria. He did not stay inside in his warm office. It is fair to say that the mood of frontline officers upon hearing these comments is outrage. We are livid.”

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: "What we have now is a group of ministers who are utterly out of touch with what is really happening in policing. They heap more and more bureaucracy onto our police, leaving them filling in form after form, often with the same information on it, and then pretend that nothing is wrong. It is not police officers who are sitting at their desks in the warm – it is ministers stuck in their ivory towers. They should get out a bit more and find out what is really going on."


Get back in the warm Jack, your tea's going cold! Oh and don't forget your expense form for the BBC interview.

Bring on the election to get shut of this shower!

31 December, 2009 20:07

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

31 December, 2009 20:35

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Straw claimed a full council tax rebate on a second home for which he was charged 1/2 council tax.

He paid it back (when 'outed' by the Telegraph)stating that "accountancy isn't my strongest point".

We need to know no more than that.

31 December, 2009 21:54

Blogger Crime Analyst said...

Yeah Jack, we noticed. Anyone that wants to knock £75million off the overtime budget, and yet sanctions £340million to keep 11500 foreign nationals in our prisons, paying up to £5000 to each one who would like to go home, is clearly a few beans short of a coffee sack.

Well observed IG.

31 December, 2009 22:25

Blogger Crime Analyst said...

Bet the Labour voters of Blackburn love him tho....

31 December, 2009 22:26

Anonymous MarkUK said...

Statistics aside, isn't one of the reasons officers have to complete so much paperwork partially the fault of the courts?

CPS will not take a case forward if the defence can pick tiny holes in procedure into damn great big ones in the case. Judges (and Mags, but at least they have the defence of being amateurs) should not allow such nit-picking. If improper procedure makes a material difference, then let it be raised. If not, then bar it from the court. (Giving the officer who made the mistake a few "words of advice" in private would probably serve justice, and the spirit of the law, a lot better.)

BTW, I too have been working over the hols, including Xmas Day. I'm an unpaid volunteer working with the ambulance service. Two days after Christmas, I had to tell a bloke that no, I couldn't do anything for his dad who was dead in bed (and had been for 12 hours or more).

He, poor sod, had been sleeping in the next room and hadn't gone in to his dad as he(son) thought dad was sleeping off the effects of the previous day's bender - not that it would have made much difference, as the father must have died within an hour of going to bed.

31 December, 2009 23:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

well- he is only saying what the majority of the public think...

check out the bbc 'have your say' on this subject...

its amazing how many Policing experts (that have never worked a day in the job) there are...

bender the Robot

01 January, 2010 08:38

Anonymous MetflunkeyMonkey said...

Anon @08:38 - is that you MCM > I always thought you were a bender.

01 January, 2010 12:32

Blogger Joker said...

We had a police car roll over in Gloucester a couple of weeks ago, after colliding with another car at speed. In the local paper's online story, several commenters (not me) suggested the driver was hurrying to get back to the station for tea and biccies, and it's a common suspicion, when we never seem to see police cars rushing to a reported incident. I can understand how police officers must be fed up with the public, but isn't there a tendency for those feelings to feed back into *more* public cynicism, and a vicious circle.

I could regale you with the story of the harassment warning order the Gloucestershire constabulary decided to hand out to me, purely on the false basis that I had sent three emails to my MP which caused him to feel 'harassed and distressed' (I actually asked another MP, in an intemperate moment, if he was 'f*** buddies' with my MP, because any blog comment where I so much as mentioned mine didn't get past pre-mod, and without any say so from me, my comment was presumably emailed to the accomplished offence taker). I'm sure the customary 'You should try to resolve this issue with the other person before involving us' which seems to be de rigeur with all other regulatory bodies was skipped on this occasion because I'm such a thorn in their side, but I'm not taking it lying down.

The point of this diatribe? That it all kicked off in the first place, I'm sure, because the police covered up for several lazy/incompetent officers who messed up investigation of a hit, (physically threaten) and run, and then a mugging, and now I have an even lower opinion of the force, and the IPCC to boot. So yes, this is what many of the public think, and it's going to take a seismic shift to change that.

01 January, 2010 15:50

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nah i am not mcm... cant remember my password... i am BENDER!

bite my shiny...

01 January, 2010 17:52

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Same arseholes, different year.

01 January, 2010 19:21

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How very observant of you MCM......
But are you going to kick those baddies arses for me sweetie-pie?


02 January, 2010 03:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

02 January, 2010 05:57

Anonymous an Aldi wine expert writes said...

help me

02 January, 2010 17:13

Blogger Mark Hodson said...

Please check the difference between 'infer' and 'imply'.

Straw may be a Tw@ - but he does communicate well. You need to use the same tools to beat him!

(Or a lignum vitae truncheon in a quiet cell - we can dream)


02 January, 2010 21:35

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Er no actually I meant infer. But thanks.

02 January, 2010 23:14

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03 January, 2010 16:58

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack Straw and his comments about paperwork made me realise something that I used to do that changed when we became computerised.
I used to take work home to finish off in the 'old days' I always took less time to complete reports as I was never called out to attend this or that. With the advent of computers and the need to electronically complete and submit so much rubbish I found I was spending increasing amounts of time in the nick at a computer.
Not really thought about it before but in all honesty computers can be our masters rather than our slaves.

03 January, 2010 19:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We could free up a lot off 'person-hours' by actually having an IT strategy...


call reported to Police- log created... send to Radio operator-then jobn sent to officer in car with hand-held data device..

deal with job- fill in crime report-once- take statement without a pen- record it...

back to station befoe end of shift- download files to server.

enq officers pick up outstanding files and enqs... if arrests- file is set to arrest team... arrest team arrive in custody with hand held data device- upload to custody system.

Custody system adds custody file to main record. All subsiquent documentation added to main file.

interview record added to main file.

CPS input/decision added to main file.

Charge and case electronic case papers sent to court.


We could remove huge amounts of 'paperwork'...

UPS and ParcelForce have better tech than we do...

Bender the robot

04 January, 2010 09:29

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Bender - steady on, you're applying common sense to the problem here, that will never do.

My force (and many others)have invested a fortune in some form of mobile data terminal. So far so good. Unfortunately, having banged on about how expensive they are so YOU WILL USE THEM! they continue to insist on committing everything to paper anyway, including pocket books. I think this is because THIS IS HOW IT'S ALWAYS BEEN DONE, which means that it's the only way, and therefore by default, the best way.
To be fair, we're not the worst cog in the CJ machine - I very much enjoyed being in a room full of Police and CPS bods when Streamline Process was unveiled. The cops all nodded, CPS all got very upset...
Just remember, there is too much paperwork, but at least ours doesn't have to be tied up with pink ribbon...

05 January, 2010 13:08

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28 January, 2010 19:25

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03 February, 2010 03:46


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