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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Friday, January 15, 2010

Crewed Oscar, Zero Zero

The golden rules of being crewed on your own as a uniformed police officer:
  • Don't stop vehicles with more than one occupant until you've got backup on the way.
  • Always know what road you're on.
  • Always make sure the control room knows what road you're on.
  • Make sure another officer is on the same road as you, preferably in the same car.
In other words, single-crewing on the front line is not an option. Not a safe one, at least. Back in December most UK police bloggers wrote about this topic, as the government announced that single-crewing was a better way of policing (and as a lucky coincidence, cheaper too).

[Paragraph removed pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.]

Officially, Neighbourhood is not the same thing as Response. Unofficially, a motivated neighbourhood officer will attend the same amount, if not more, spontaneous and dangerous incidents as her response colleagues.

Officially, officers are asked to risk assess the incidents they attend and wait for backup or 'contain' an incident if they cannot attend on their own. Unofficially, if you're behind a vehicle that needs stopping, you'd better hope you're equipped for that vehicle to stop, and that you know the name of the unsigned part of the unsigned country road you're on (you know, just up from a bush and opposite that tree). Because once they see you, they might just pull over. They might just get out, take a dislike to you, and start to punch and kick you until you fall to the ground unconscious, where they might kick you a bit more. As you fight them tooth and nail, spray and baton, for your life, alone in the countryside, you might well think your number is up. You probably didn't want to die that way. Your colleagues might find you lying on the ground not moving, and for a moment they might think the worst, and wonder why they hadn't driven quicker, got there sooner, got in the car with you, saved you.

I've been writing this blog for some time, and what I've gleaned from colleagues across the nation and world has brought me to a bit of a conclusion about Neighbourhood policing. I'll share it with you:

There's no such thing as Neighbourhood Policing. There is only Policing.

Alan Johnson, there is no place in the world where a police officer, in uniform, in the city or in the countryside, in people's homes or on the streets, is not in danger. At least, in pairs, we have a fighting chance.


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

31 Comments:

Anonymous I despair! said...

Couldn't agree with you more. After Straw criticised us for sitting on our arses doing nothing, I wrote and told him to read your blog, I figured he might learn snomething, although i don't hold out much hope that he'll bother. Pehaps had she been sat on her arse in his nice warm office, she wouldn't have been in the situation she was!
I really do hope she makes a full recovery and is back at work soon, the same for the Irish officer in the news as well!

15 January, 2010 23:05

 
Blogger Minbu said...

In total agreement with you. Alan Johnson is an arse, as are others in similar positions who make these decisions. How many officers are protecting him around the clock?

15 January, 2010 23:20

 
Blogger Oscar said...

As it happens, a while ago, whilst on my way back from work (which had me go through central london at 1 AM) I followed two police officers since we were going the same way. Seconds after crossing a road they started running towards Picadilly Circus to separate two idiots who were fighting each other. They teamed up against the PC (I think one of them was a PCSO), and would have ended up in trouble if it wasn't because she had a bit more room and was able to call for backup (on the meantime I was trying to reason with the idiots working in the tube station, who just were saying "it's closed maaaate", as if I was drunk, instead of asking them to call the police [since my phone died several hours ago. any remedies for that?]). Using the magical button on her radio, she managed to get around 30-40 police officers betwen 20 seconds and a minute, saving the day.

I bet not everyone is as lucky as those two who were allowed to go in pairs. Hooray for economizing!

16 January, 2010 00:20

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oscar...YES, there is a remedy for a mobile that "dies" whilst out.
There's a gadget that can be bought to solve the problem, A small dynamo wind up L.E.D torch and mobile phone charger! I have seen them advertised in home shopping catalogues that come through the letter box, or often slipped into a Saturday newspaper.

www.coopersofstortford.co.uk
£14.99 - buy one get one free!
I hope that info helps you....

16 January, 2010 01:08

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you Bloggsy. My heart goes out to Fran, and I hope she recovers quickly. Poor woman, and the poor guy in Northern Ireland, hope he gets well soon. But it's the psychological scars, that cannot be seen, that sometimes never heal from nasty incidents like these.

And it has to be said, that it isn't just lone uniform officers who are in daily danger. Plain clothes officers, undercover, are equally at risk from the nasty pieces of work who are dotted about everywhere.

No police officers should be expected to work alone, not ever.
As it is blatantly obvious that doing that places them in greater danger from attacks, which could be fatal, the Home Office should be sued for failing in their duty of care, and negligence.
These idiots have done so much damage to this country and especially to the public services.

And they "stand by" the main culprit, Gordon Brown. Shame on them.

Another plod against the machine...

16 January, 2010 02:25

 
Blogger Ambush Monkey said...

My heart goes out to Fran and any police officer in any country that has to go up against the scum of the world in less than favorable conditions - which means just about all of them anywhere.
Here in Los Angeles, and in most parts of the US, many of our officers and deputies go alone - simply due to the amount of area that needs to be covered.
I remember being with a deputy out in the Southern California desert; we had to cover (at night) the 'cities' of 29 Palms, Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. There was one other deputy whose typical response as back-up could be up to 30 mins away - and one Highway Patrol officer who could be up to an hour away.
The big equalizer against the baddies? The good ol' firearm. The best weapon in the officer's arsenal? The ability of the officer or deputy to use every method at their disposal to bring almost any situation under control.
Yes, you all know the famous incidents that get broadcast around the world when an officer is accused of excessive force, but given that there are some 700K LEO's for a population of over 300 million, those incidents are relatively few and far between for a population that is severely out-numbered at any time.

As always, love reading the blog and loved your books!

16 January, 2010 03:03

 
Blogger Boy on a bike said...

I read a comment elsewhere last week along the lines of, "It's not supposed to be a fair fight between cops and robbers. It's supposed to be unfair, and we want the police to win!"

Much easier to win if there are two of you on the spot.

16 January, 2010 10:13

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Thanks for the comments.

I agree ref the last on firearms. Having seen a clip of a small female officer controlling a lunatic from fifteen feet away without having to touch him or use any force whatsoever. Firearms definitely have their place.

16 January, 2010 10:15

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

This happened to the RMP as well; in Iraq, 4 of them were sent with light arms to train local police and ended up unable to defend themselves and killed, when large numbers of insurgents arrived.

The asylum seeker who hid the illegal immigrant who killed PC Sharon B. has just been given leave to remain in the UK.

Single Crewing, lack of helicopters, no consequences, it's all the same rot.

16 January, 2010 10:35

 
Anonymous R/T said...

I can't praise Fran highly enough for having the courage (yes, courage) to stop what was obviously a shit's van, on her own. There's a lot of us who wouldn't have. But look where it got her. It's hopeless isn't it?

BTW - it may well be an urban myth but the story in MP is that Johnson was walking in central london with (with his armed PO, I might add) and was not spotted and acknowledged by the two PCs that passed him. He was on the blower ranting to the Old Man and shortly after the edict came out re: single crewing. Hope it's not true but it wouldn't surprise me if it was.

16 January, 2010 11:09

 
Blogger Metcountymounty said...

R/T I've seen an email that went round the IBO supervisors after that incident, it was on Victoria but was peter mandelson not the ex-postman. The commissioner started a DPS investigation afterwards to find out who they were.

16 January, 2010 11:42

 
Anonymous Virtual Supply said...

Have said for a long time, all officers should be able to carry a hand gun, ammunition, and the right to decide when and where to use it without the need for some office warmer to risk assess and authorise immediate use.

From my long experiance, the vast majority of officers are intelligent, responsible and able to understand the difference between not right and wrong.

Using a firearm delivers without doubt, the intention to kill, and allows the criminal the option of making up their own mind.

They have the ability to ask themselves, 'Do I realy want to die right now!'

16 January, 2010 11:43

 
Blogger Hogday said...

One of the oldest chestnuts, this one. I almost `bought in` to the single vs double crewed argument when someone tried to sell it to us on a pre-promotion course. After years as a patrol sergeant, in some predominently violent areas, I will throw my hat well and truly into the double-crewed is best camp. My shift, all excellent men and women of high moral fibre, cleared more jobs when all available cars were double crewed (at a time when I had the luxury of sometimes 3 such units). Although they worked equally hard even when alone as they inevitably were on any number of occasions it was clear to me that this never produced the best results. My evidence was not purely anecdotal as I had calls/arrest figures I could quote. I was not amazed that no such information was ever quoted when the old `single crewed` argument was trolled out by some senior wag. And as for R/T's comment re Johnson/Mandyson not being acknowledged - the famous retort for some jumped up arsepipe who comes out with `do you know who I am` is a quick call to the control room stating you have someone with you who appears not to know who they are.

16 January, 2010 12:14

 
Blogger George Saint said...

Single crewed vehicles and single foot patrols have been coming a long time, it always comes down to cost. Twice as many patrols from the same number of officers.

But why is it that we have to keep relearning the same lessons over and over again. In the MPS, it wasn’t that long ago we were being taught the need for ‘Contact and Cover’ procedures on all stops. Those procedures require two officers, one for contact the other for cover.

Why did we instigate that method for dealing with stops? One of the incidents that led up to it was the unprovoked, daytime attack on an R/T car crew on the old ZY Ground in South London.

Let's hope Fran Croucher makes a speedy recovery and that we don't have to have any more repeats before this policy is changed.

16 January, 2010 12:20

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I've said it before on this blog and I'll say it again - I am the supervisor on the ground and I will be the one to decide if my cops patrol on their own, in pairs or all vanned up together. I will take full responsibility for that decision if and when any politician or other non-combatant 'expert' wishes to challenge it.
It was my understanding that I earned both the right and responsibility to make these decisions when I was promoted.

I'll also exercise my right to vote to oust the current bunch of idiots at the next general election...

We've got the HMI in next week, I wonder if they'll talk to me? :)

16 January, 2010 15:46

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Notts Sarge
No they wont but you have the right to talk to them.

16 January, 2010 17:20

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Idea that a single answer fits all is so asinine, if this was so, we would not need leaders, to make decisions, just a simple computer program that when asked the question then up comes the solution. I know computers be smart, ask any chess player,but they rarely make a decent cup of tea.

Each beat is a test of local problem solving.
dungbeetle

16 January, 2010 19:22

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question, digital cameras are cheap why does not every copper have one mounted? and take a snap before putting on the baseball cap then ask questions.
The perps always have a movie camera so they can edit and claim abuse.
Tit for tat.
dungbeetle

16 January, 2010 19:35

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliantly put.
Speedy recovery Fran.

Officer and a lady

16 January, 2010 21:01

 
Blogger Oscar said...

@Anonymous at 16 January, 2010 01:08

Thanks for the tip. I'm sure it will be useful for my long days out (not leisuring but working!)

16 January, 2010 23:25

 
Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Oscar
If you notice your battery is getting low you can access a resrve by pressing the following keys
*3370#
Give it a go.

17 January, 2010 11:22

 
Blogger Frankie said...

Dungbeetle

I have just started wearing a new body worn video camera which is pretty good quality and has already been useful. At least when/if I get a pasting whilst out on my own I will have some good footage of it!!

I work in a largeish city centre on a shift of 7 (normally more like 5). Our area car is always double crewed but the rest of us go out on our own. It can be scary. Backup is usually there quickly, the irony being that we all know the risks and all back each other up, ending up with all the section vehicles going to all of the same jobs anyway! Still, I am sure there will be a time when backup cannot get to me quickly enough.
Single crewing is inevitable. With such small shifts and so many jobs to attend our supervisors have no choice.

17 January, 2010 22:43

 
Blogger Busy said...

Single crewing is based on the myth that officers can protect themselves by risk assessing situations.
Time and time again we've seen that danger comes from the most unlikely source at the most unexpected time.
If we honestly risk assessed every job we'd never attend without ARVs and dogs simply because, honestly, at any given job, we don't really know what waits behind the door.

18 January, 2010 00:32

 
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18 January, 2010 01:49

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I am also the sort of guy who loves to seek original stuff. Right now I'm constructing an excuse for something I'm bound to have done wrong. I'm doing it all alone without the assistance of my non-discriminatory team. I'm not allowed to use the Internet at work. I discovered something called WebMarshall when I tried. The Home Office web site showed me where I was going wrong.

I'm not in the least bit convinced how correct the information given there is. If Bloggsy and her subscribers can have a see and give their feedback it will be great but the Home Secretary will have a fit, because nobody seems to have a bloody clue what happens out there on the street.

Thanks for reading this. You are probably tired, cynical and disillusioned but you carry on giving it your all anyway.

Anybody know anything about installing solar panels? ;)

18 January, 2010 13:16

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankie Thanks.
Back in the early fifties I was taught the the difference between
Queensbury rules of engagement and the Queenland rules of Kings Cross Sydney, they have come in handy in a tight situation.
You Guys need a better equalizer than pepper or cattle prod.
The rules of engagement are set by the perp and you need updated rules for this modern street war that you have on your hands, why do the leaders always use the old rules, while the aggressor adopts new ones.
The leaders, those with crowns should read

The Art of War (Hardcover)
~ Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu (Author)
it is not expensive but could save lots of dough.

Dungbeetle

18 January, 2010 18:53

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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19 January, 2010 04:10

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oldfart says:

i have to say... when I first joined up I spent the most part singled... it does teach you a few things- how to speak to people - how to judge carefully what is dangerous etc...

that said...

it was a different world then... i didnt carry a truncheon until we we issued with the baton, people were less likely to have a go then...

i think its a mistake to judge the two time periods as the same- and thereby is our error...

We - the UK peoples- view the Police and society with eyes as old as we are and with rosy glasses- Dixon of Dock Green- IS GONE!!! hello government!!! can you hear me? GONE...

now we have a much more fractured, violent place to live in where ordinary people are just as happy to cause issue (G20...) than villans...

years of 'social engineering' and 'rights lobby' people (liberty) have DIRECTLY caused this state of play...

and, like centuries of Police before us, we are left to tidy up.

flip help us all...

Sun Tzu? yes...
A book of five rings... DEF!

19 January, 2010 12:57

 
Anonymous Mac said...

There is no motivation for chief officers to abandon single crewing.

All that matters to them now is the 'corporate image', and officers being assaulted doesn't effect that. They would even argue that the 'brave officer' angle enhances the public view, albeit briefly before they drop back to the default setting of ambivalence.

Likewise authorising shooting an armed villain will always trouble a chief officer more than allowing an officer to be shot.

Officers being injured by villains will never attract as much public/media scrutiny as villains being injured by police, so chief officers will err towards the least potential damage to their careers.

19 January, 2010 16:19

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac - spot on and what you have stated sums up exactly what is wrong with the mind set in this country. It's topsy turvy land.

However in Northern Ireland, the attempted murder of an officer there, was of enough concern to be raised in a debate in their Assembly.

It could be that violence against officers in the UK does get discussed in Westminster. I don't know because I'm not glued to the TV all the time. Perhaps they don't like to highlight these crimes against the police, due to the old game of keeping up appearances.

Unless an officer is killed perhaps, because they would look like utter twats, if they said nothing about it. But then again, if that was a part of a greater "problem" being covered up..... Well, no doubt they would justify their silence on the matter as being "in the national interest". The get out clause to cover up all manner of scandals.

It all boils down to the government and the public, having unrealistic expectations of police officers, who are supposed to be "perfect" super-human beings.

I tried my best, and failed!!!

Trinity

20 January, 2010 03:20

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She's been suspended and arrested on the grounds of misconduct.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8487330.stm
Which doesn't mean there is any connection of course.

29 January, 2010 15:15

 

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