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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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Systemic, Schystemic

This little story caught my eye today: three colleagues of the four firefighters who died in Warwickshire are about to be arrested for offences following a Health and Safety investigation. The article is not clear whether these are supervisors, peers, or senior managers.

I imagine that in fire-fighting circles, similar conversations go on as on police blogs regarding resources, budgets, bureaucracy and working conditions. I am not aware of senior fire chiefs speaking out in the manner of Chief Constable Mark Rowley about the effect of recent budget cuts on his front-line numbers. But I am sure some have.

My wonderings are: if a Surrey police officer should be killed on duty, and the investigation should discover that the area was under-staffed and this was a contributing factor to the death, will CC Mark Rowley's earlier comments save or condemn him? Will he be exonerated for the fact he spoke out against Home Office rule, or will he be castigated for allowing his officers to work when he had openly stated his front-line numbers were down?

Of course, CC Rowley never said, "These latest round of budget cuts are forcing my officers to work in dangerously under-resourced conditions." No Chief Constable would dare say that, because you can bet it would be turned around on him/her in any Health and Safety investigation following an officer's or member of the public's death. Should the horrifying conclusion be that the death was caused by systemic failures, responsibility for "the system" falls on one man's shoulders alone. No talk of government cutbacks will convince a jury that a Chief was justified in allowing troops to go out unprepared. What Chief Constable would face prison for manslaughter by gross negligence, by admitting that he/she is being forced to police the streets of this nation with laughable resources, both under-staffed and under-equipped?

And in the absence of such an admission, how do you ever prove the link between public dissatisfaction, fear of crime
, and the ever-dwindling blue line between order and chaos?

In the meantime, make of this what you will.

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


Anonymous A Polis Man said...

Don't know who the fire officers are, but I have a source in Fire health and safety, and quite simply they should never have gone in, nobody stopped them and then others went in after them!

The enquiry can only focus on what those in charge knew (possible charges for ground commanders)or should have known (lack of training, resources,policies etc... absolutely no chance of a charge against any bean counting muppet who cancelled all the relevant cousres for financial reasons whilst still finding a budget for fluffy wuffy diversity courses- cos it might make a difference in how you put out a burning house!)

More likley a charge against the brigade for causing/allowing the unfortunate deaths (similar to the De Menzes charge and conviction )

28 January, 2010 10:02

Anonymous copperbottom said...

No CC will ever be held so directly accountable as the supervisors on the ground at a particular incident. They have a get out of jail card that is really hard to beat- 'if I had been there I wouldn't have done XYZ etc...'

Also, they can simply pass on the decision to become involved with a quick talk about 'dynamic risk assessment'...

be under no illusions: you are on your own at incidents- noone will support you.

28 January, 2010 11:05

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28 January, 2010 13:20

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

There are sufficient police numbers-it is just that they are all doing the wrong things-sitting at computers trying to squeeze another detection out of the system so the boss can get his bonus or being quasi social workers instead of law enforcers-then you have the bad back brigade who seem to think that having pulled a muscle means you can only work 9-5 Mon-Fri-even worse are the supervisors who let these parasites do this.Dont forget to add the PCSOs as well-why pay someone to be a copper when you can pay them to arrange litter picking...Rant over now the important bit...
Response is the most dangerous aspect of policing because you never know what is round the corner-that is why they should be adequately resourced.They go into situations(often single crewed) very often not knowing the true situation as the centralised control room "forgot" to update them or brief them properly.I would not be surprised to see some prosecutions soon in the policing world for H&S and until this happens guvnors will keep getting away with it-So dont forget if your team isshort or you are put in a dangerous situation because of it submit the appropriate forms to your H&S dept AND KEEP A COPY-Supts and above have been known to "bin" themto avoid problems.

28 January, 2010 15:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the duty state shows 156 officers, where are they all?

28 January, 2010 20:52

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALL public sector 'agencies' have the dishonourable habit of 'binning' documents that could prove their negligence, mistakes, bad practice, maladministration, misconduct and malice. They also write their own files of 'spin' to discredit the very people who are their victims. And that is the very least of what they will stoop to, especially in the Health and Social Care Sector. A very sad day indeed if the force has been 'infected' with this symptom of a system contaminated by extreme ar$e covering, to avoid liability for people who become injured or sick.

Government have a great deal to answer for, Tories and NuLabour.
Don't be fooled by Cameron. He would be no different to Brown/Blair.
There would be NO CHANGE THERE.

29 January, 2010 05:57

Anonymous copperbottom said...

sarge- there are not enough to do what they want us to do...

If you check out the Police and support staff for -say- New York they have at least twice as many officers and 3x the support staff.

Also, remember in the USA a lot of big stores or malls have there own armed security- they just hand over the shoplifter or the disorder to the local Police.

For the radical change MPs and mOPs want- we need to re-think the Police plan fro the ground up.

I know what you mean about numbers- but the only 'pool' of officers that can be drawn from for teams and squads etc is- NHT and Response...

The job you did is gone sarge... the job I joined 20 odd years ago is gone too. We now have more people to Police- by far.

Also... keep arresting the same old characters is getting a bit thin now... I mean when you see headline losers like Pete Doherty going to court carrying smack in his pocket and NOT going to prison - you realise how sorry it all is...

29 January, 2010 12:03

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

A true conversation
Supt"Sgt I am restructuring your team from 7 to 6 so you will have an extra officer"
Sgt(Not long before retiring)"You are talking total bollocks"
Sgt leaves room and returns with
his retirement form completed which he hands to Supt. and leaves room again

29 January, 2010 15:07

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01 February, 2010 14:51

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03 February, 2010 20:17

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06 February, 2010 21:33


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