This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Please drop in on this worthy cause:

http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/donors-urgently-needed-for-ben-aged-16/

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PC Bloggs Investigtes... the DV Murder

"Casey's been stabbed by her ex... she's not breathing..."

I don't know how often most police areas receive calls like that, but in Blandmore it's less than once a year. Across the force, just a handful of people are murdered by their partner or ex-partner each year. That's enough to form a decent percentage of our murders and to support the statistic that - if you are female and murdered, there is about an 80% chance it was done by a lover, past or present.

A Domestic Violence murder always makes the blood run cold in the morning meeting. The superintendent spends several hours in the crazed hope that the couple have never come to police attention before, as if normal, non-abusive partners just suddenly wake up one day and kill each other. When the inevitable previous incident/s is/are discovered, the Blame Standard Operating Procedure is pulled off the intranet and kicked into action.

The purpose of the Blame SOP is to negate the chance of a Homicide Review. If a force can identify its own failings and show how it's fixed them, a Review might not take place exposing failings which are not so easily fixable. For example, the chances are, the murderer has been arrested before for domestically abusing the same victim, or a different victim. If that is the case, there will be a slew of officers names involved the previous cases, any of whom are probably wholly responsible for the murder.

The SOP goes as follows:
  • Locate the last officer to arrest the murderer for a domestic-related offence. Failing that, any offence.
  • Dredge up the paperwork and scour it for undotted i's and t's lacking in crosses. List them on a Catalogue of Errors.
  • Listen to the interview tapes from the officer's interview. If any questions in the whole world that could have been asked, weren't, add them to the Catalogue.
  • If the offender was not charged with the offence of criminal damage/common assault he had been arrested for, locate the person who made that decision and include their name in your paperwork. Ask them why they made the decision, then discard their reply.
  • Search through both officers' previous cases and hope to find one where a similar Catalogue of Errors occured.
  • Draft a report suggesting that the officers should be fired.
  • At no point during any of the above should the question be considered whether there was anything realistically that the police could have done to prevent the murder.
As you may have gathered, we suffered a recent DV Murder in Blandmore. We had opportunities to lock the baddie up before he did it. We didn't lock him up, because the crystal ball informing us that he had planned the murder for years (he hadn't), was hidden away in a safe in the superintendent's office.

Every day, people abuse their partners and fail to go onto murder them. Every day, victims refuse to support police proceedings and live with their decision. Some don't. If we were able to tell the difference before it happened, we could save a lot of time. Because we can't, we spend all our time making sure that if and when the Blame SOP is triggered, it isn't our name on the decision that caused the murder.

The way I see it, we've got two choices:
Either we allow the police/courts to prosecute and convict people on little or no evidence, and without the support of the victim. In other words, we take over people's lives for them and tell them exactly what to do and who to fall in love with. Or we accept that DV murders will happen, and sometimes there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Excepting of course the murderer himself, but then again his part in all this is by-the-by.


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

Monday, February 16, 2009

When will someone hear?














Hooray, yet more press about the fact that police officers are spending one-eighth of their time "on the beat".

I could rant about this topic for hours, the alternative being that I succumb to the fact that the press, public and government seem totally utterly unable to grasp two crucial facts about policing:
  1. Being "on the beat" is not some kind of panacaea of all evil. There's more to do than just kick police officers all out of the nick.
  2. It isn't "paperwork" that is the problem. It is bureaucracy, faux-accountability and endless hours of time wasted carrying out lengthy tasks to tick boxes and cover backs.
On "paperwork", yes, it is lengthy to spend four hours taking a witness statement for a robbery, covering 12 pages with illegible scrawl. Yes, PC Copperfield can tell us about how the process is far swifter in Canada, and yes there are ways we could cut this down. But the fact is, most police officers I know don't mind spending four hours writing out a witness statement for a job with a genuine victim and a good chance of a successful prosecution. Witness statements are seen as the nuts and bolts of a good investigation and we don't mind doing long and detailed ones when they are warranted.

What we DO mind is writing out a 12 page illegible witness statement for a job that is never going to see the inside of a police interview room, let alone a courtroom. We DO mind filling out files for CPS that we know are going to get dropped for lack of evidence, because there just wasn't any evidence to gather. We mind very much spending whole shifts chasing down every last witness to an assault in a crowded pub, when none of the victims want us to bother and no one was badly hurt anyway.

Other things police officers mind include:
  • spending two hours waiting to book a prisoner into custody whom we only arrested because someone in the Senior Management Team saw a crime with a named suspect and thought we could squeeze a detection out of it, when we know from the start that we can't.
  • arresting people for crimes where "racism" or "religious hatred" is involved when if neither had been mentioned we wouldn't have bothered and in either case there is the same chance of ever getting the case to court.
  • having to "no-crime" half the incidents we attend because the caller was lying, wasting our time or had changed their mind about reporting it by the time we arrived, with the option of telling them to shut up and go away having been stripped away from us.
  • prosecuting kids for being kids because the crime is "on the system" and a named offender is a named offender at any age.

When I read articles like the above about how the police spend their time, yet again seeing the phrases "on the beat" and "paperwork" sprayed throughout it, I despair that the message will never really get across. It's almost a plaudit to this government that they've successfully made 21st Century Policing so complicated that nobody can actually understand what's wrong with it.

Good people are going mad trying to do the right thing with the wrong tools. The whole thing is rotten to its core.

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Still not not guilty















Once again the CPS hav
e decided not to prosecute the officers who shot Jean Charles de Menezes.

Once again the family are unhappy with the decision and will be trying to persuade the IPCC to change THEIR minds instead.

I have a great deal of sympathy with this family. Their son was shot dead and did absolutely nothing to deserve it. But this constant appealing, re-appealing, branding every decision corrupt and wanting "justice" at every turn cannot be healthy for anyone involved. The officers who did it need to know where they stand and move on, the family need a final decision.

The most staggering part of all of it is that someone HAS been convicted in relation to this incident. The Metropolitan Police was found guilty of breaching Health and Safety, a fact happily forgotten among all this legal wrangling for an individual scapegoat. In their calls for police accountability, when will someone point out that despite this landmark guilty verdict, no one was ever really punished for the breach and the senior officer most closely involved emerged not only unscathed but individually praised and since promoted.

No one can argue against police accountability, because all humans should be accountable for their deliberate or reckless actions. I just wish the people lobbying long and hard for it would open their eyes, read a few police blogs and realise exactly what 21st Century Accountability actually means.

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

Friday, February 06, 2009

That One-Eyed Scottish Genius

Yet another BBC presenter has wheeled out an apology for some senseless mockery of a much-loved public figure. Jeremy Clarkson accidentally called Gordon Brown a "one-eyed Scottish idiot".












"I see no ships, Barack."


This is apparently offensive to blind/partially-sighted people, Scots, and a lot of people with not very much to do in all this snow.

Personally I don't think it was one of Clarkson's funniest moments, preferring instead his gratuitous remarks about prostitute-abusing lorry drivers or women who can't read maps. And I'm all for political correctness: deployed in a timely manner it's my favourite kind of comedy. But when did it suddenly become wrong to mock the British Prime Minister?

"Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable", spouts the chief executive of the Royal National Institute for Blind People. And seemingly the majority of the British government, media, and anyone else who has managed to get on telly, are all nodding along sagely.

Some time in the last eleven years and nine months, this country lost its sense of humour. I don't think we should gratuitously mock the disabled, JUST for being disabled. But making fun of anyone and everything is kind of the only thing we Brits have left, isn't it?

Next, they'll be telling us that we can't mock the police, which means we'll have to take things like this seriously.

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

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fire Brigading

Blandshire Constabulary has a tried and tested method of responding to any of the resource-intensive crises that can descend on it on a given day, such as terrorist strike, animal rights demonstration, Chief Constable visit, or snowfall.

When the fourth listed crisis occurs, an air-call goes out to inform everyone that they should immediately sit on their arses in the police station and only leave if one of the first three above crises occurs. Calls from the public will only be attended if the inspector considers that the likelihood of the caller dying is greater than the likelihood of the attending officer aquaplaning into a crash barrier en route. As police officers are more than capable of aquaplaning into crash barriers on days when it is dry and sunny, it is therefore likely that on snowy days we will not leave the police station at all. Anyone breaking into cars, houses, beating up their partners or running amok with a variety of weapons should feel free to continue.



Let's face it, we're not the brightest and best drivers whether it's been snowing or not.









This method of policing is known as Fire Brigade Policing, because the fire brigade generally do not drive around hoping to catch a fire in the process of breaking out, but wait at their station until they are called. There are other things the fire brigade do which the police do NOT adopt, no matter how snowy it is, for example:
  • Blacklist persistent hoax callers and refuse to attend, or fine them for wasting our time.
  • Carry around equipment which is actually capable of smashing through doors when needed.
  • Do not apologise or pay when their officers in good faith and in response to a call completely wreck an entire house.
  • Refuse to cancel whilst en route to a call, no matter how obvious it is they are not needed (Blandshire is, however, introducing this rule by stealth).
Whatever one says about the fire brigade, there is something impressive and reassuring about four big engines waking up the neighbourhood as they arrive on scene to rescue a child from a jammed lift. There's very little impressive about the entire strength of Blandmore's response teams putting their feet up in the nick, watching the snow fall and wondering how soon their should start defrosting their cars to go home.


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

 

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