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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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blandshire Welcomes Professional Judgment

In the Twenty-First Century, police officers no longer have Discretion, we have PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT (or PJ, as I intend to coin).

The Chief Constable of Blandshire Constabulary is happy to welcome PJ to our streets and urges all front-line officers to use it.

PJ can be used to determine that a crime has not happened, to avoid recording of snowball-throwing. This is excellent, because whereby at the moment it is Blandshire Constabulary's recording procedures that can be held accountable for petty arrests and unsatisfied victims, from now on it will be individual officers, because the latest force guidance confirms that it is entirely the officer's decision what crime gets recorded. If the officer feels the crime didn't happen, they can now feel free to say so.

Of course, if the non-existent crime is solvable, ie someone has named an offender who did not commit the said non-happened crime, and the officer fails to record it because it didn't happen, then the guilty officer should soon expect an email from the Senior Management Team urging them to use their PJ to record and solve the afore-mentioned non-occurred unactioned non-crime.

This is because PJ functions within strict boundaries
, as prescribed by the SMT:
  • If you apply PJ properly to a domestic crime, you will likely come to the conclusion the crime HAS happened and that someone SHOULD be arrested.
  • Likewise for race hate crime, or violent crime, or any other kind of crime that is currently being measured by the government under their new non-measurement of crime scheme.
  • PJ does not apply on the evening of the week's detection tally, or the night before the monthly Performance Group.
Confused? That's the idea.

The truth of Professional Judgment is that it does create accountability: in fact, it shifts the accountability squarely on the shoulders of front-line police officers and away from their second and third line managers. Because while the edicts from the top level are urging discretion and personal judgment, mid-management are still floundering in a sea of crime statistics and performance measures. Mid-management are still sending emails about trivial crimes that should have been solved and serious investigations that should have achieved convictions without the slightest scrap of evidence. Mid-management haven't got the message about Professional Judgement, or if they have, they're too scared to use it.

Who, in the Twenty-First Century, is really going to send their sergeants and PCs an email saying, "If you felt that walking away from the situation was the right course of action, I'll stand by you", or "Let's not waste custody space and court time with these piles of garbage"?

On paper, Professional Judgment is a way of holding officers accountable for their decisions. A way of impressing on them the ethics and principles by which they police. A way of encouraging thoughtfulness and compassion.
In practice, it's a smoke-screen. It's a way of pretending that decisions out on the streets are those of the officers and the officers alone.

They aren't. The emails are still coming. The performance culture persists.

Don't believe what you read.

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


Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

The reason why all the petty stuff had to be recorded was of course it is far easier and cheaper to detect petty stuff such as snowball throwing theft of sweets from the corner shop etc than it is to investigate burglaries public order and the like.
My advice to everyone is to record all crime and let middle management make the decision-because hen it goes pear shaped they will not stand behind you-in fact they wont be anywhere to be seen at all.

23 February, 2010 10:48

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

So how does PJ line up with NCRS, ECHR, RIPA, PACE etc? It would be nice to see discretion and professional judgement being actually taught alongside common sense. I can't see that happening without a complete political shift in how and what we want the Police to do. A royal Commission might help, but it still probably wouldn't cause a revolution in policing.

23 February, 2010 10:53

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

with the right skill sets and training you don't need to be a Chief Inspector to take home the same pay as one ;)

23 February, 2010 14:55

Blogger Hogday said...

Has the Blandshire CC finally decided he/she has the spine to stand up to the Home Office? Or has s/he just made a gaff? This is the stuff of Joseph Heller. Good luck with your PJ's A/Ps Yossarian.

23 February, 2010 15:38

Anonymous Shijuro said...

Well, as far as I know- I still hold a warrant and with that comes discretionary power.

Obviously, you can only use it for minor crime however, it has not been removed- to my knowledge.

I have been 'taken to task' by snr staff for exercising my powers- but they have never really been able to make it stick. This is because I have not done anything wrong.

So - but of a 'no story' really.

23 February, 2010 16:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Farce is re-introducing PJ in the new financial year. There is a project group working on it right now. No doubt it will be accompanied by pages of 'policy guidelines'.

Breach these and PSD will be on your back. So its easy to imagine how much 'discretion' will actually be used.

23 February, 2010 17:32

Blogger blueknight said...

It was 'lost' the day that ABH had to be crimed and detected as wounding, but charged and punished as common assault.

23 February, 2010 21:01

Blogger Metcountymounty said...

blueknight, scarily I had that very same argument with the CMU the other day. It came in as a suspect running off from a hotel which was a making off without payment for a bill and a slap in the face to the hotel manager causing a red handprint which was crimed as a common assault and theft. Changed to an ABH for detection purposes by the CMU, but cautioned for common assault by the CPS after they dropped the rest. Ridiculous.

23 February, 2010 21:45

Blogger English Pensioner said...

Many more years ago than I care to remember, I attended a general interest law course as a sideline to my main studies. One thing I remember being told was that a sworn constable has certain rights (such as the right of arrest) and holds these rights on a personal basis, that is it is the constable's own decision whether to arrest someone, and his alone. No superior officer can demand that he makes an arrest. Surely this was personal judgement as to whether to use the powers available to him.
Is the legal situation still the same, or has it changed in all those years.

24 February, 2010 00:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The various idiots who signed up to the HOCR nonsense in the first place cannot now be seen to have failed.

Hence the new policy of: blame the troops for everything, pretend it wasn't us in the first place and carry on.

Someone should write a book about it.........

24 February, 2010 00:42

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure. But what about things like this?

That is what too many MOPs have as their direct contact with the front line. I do hope the acting sergeant here isn't Bloggsy. All of my hopes would be dashed!

24 February, 2010 06:47

Anonymous shijuro said...

well I watched the video... The bloke was obviously out to cause a problem with the Police. He could have simply given his details and been on his way in a few minutes. However, he decided not to and left the officers with no choice but to lock him up.

Members of the public had come forward and said that he was taking pictures of them without their permission etc- what about their rights?

Also, he may have been taking those photos for ANY reason, including sexual ones. I dont know about you but I wouldnt want some random bloke taking pictures of me or my kids?

We are not talking about someone in the middle of London taking pics of Eros in Piccadilly... this is a shopping centre with kids and mums etc... if he wanted to test his camera (lol...) then he could have gone to the local park?

Instead- he behaved like a cock. The officers tried their best to avoid arrest- but he wanted to get his name in the papers...

He is nothing more than an idiot.

I tell you now- pop over to Russia and do the same... make sure you have good medical insurance though...

24 February, 2010 12:12

Anonymous Parkway said...

"No choice but to lock him up"

I don't think that's what you really mean...

What happens if they didn't lock him up - if they just let him carry on?

(But yes, he was being a bit of a ...)

24 February, 2010 12:42

Anonymous Southcoastcopper said...

"What happens if they didn't lock him up - if they just let him carry on?"

Someone would have complained that although police attended they did nothing to stop what they were complaining about, the officers involved will be instructed (via email of course, just so it's all auditable come promotion time) to justify their decision making processes, and having done that (in an official written report that is emailed to the inspector that they haven't yet seen,just so it's all auditable come promotion time ) they will be given words of advice on their "decision making" and told to be more pro-active next time. All this will, of course, be in an email so that it's all audi. . . you get the idea.

Essentially the initial point of the complaint will be lost in the rush to use the management response as evidence for a promotion, the bobbies involved would be made to feel incompetent and incapable of exercising judgement, and worse, scared to do so for fear of the same happening again.

Do I sound bitter or a victim of such managerial crap? Funny that. . . .

24 February, 2010 16:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They tried this propergander in my farce this year. They called it "community resolution". It was ment to solve the "snow balling / play ground assault" issue caused by NCRS. We'd still record the crime and all participants but fill in a form to say it was "resolved" by words of advice. The crime goes undetected but still "resolved". The CC made a big song and dance, there was force wide compulsory training at HQ. It all sounded too sensible (compared to the usual police loonacy) to be true.... and guess what it was.

10 months down the line and the Chief Super has realised all those undetected "resolved" crimes are now like a brown smear on his bed sheets. They are making him look really bad and worse they're going to cost him his bonus as he will no longer meet his crime reduction targets.

So the DI who has had his bum well and truely kicked despite predicting this last April has had an informal chat with all the 24/7 and told us straight. If we continue to use the "community resolution" and the boss loses his bonus then the bottom 1/3 of PCs on each 24/7 shift who have poorest detection rates will be disciplined. Their performance will be reviewed and they will be given an action plan. If it is not improved they may not be eligible for thier special priority payment.

Fuck Gordon Brown if that's not bullying I do not know what is?.

24 February, 2010 18:01

Anonymous shijuro said...

the reason they couldn't let him go on was explined in my original post- would you be ok with him photographing your kids?

24 February, 2010 21:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...


25 February, 2010 19:27

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anon 1927

Not spending 6-8 hours dealing with a juvenile shoplifter who nicked less than a tenner's worth, or not spending weeks on end dealing with unfathomably petty 'threats to kill' text message arguments between stacey's ex-boyfriends cousins best mate and the new love of her life, or not dealing with continous calls from a neighbourhood watch rep about taxis parking on double yellows at 2300 on a Friday night?? There are much more important/serious things to be dealing with so if you want to call that "can't be arsed" then how about you join up and show us all how it's done?

25 February, 2010 23:03

Anonymous Shijuro said...



I agree.. in the same way I cant be arsed to debate with wankers like you...

26 February, 2010 09:45

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had my PJ training last year under the bland, patronising title "Serving With Pride and Confidence." Apparently beforehand we were neithe proud nor confident, instead we let our heads sag with the weight of our shame and timidly approached all situations.
This much vaunted training (only vaunted by people above the rank of Inspector i.e. those who will never have to use it) was meant to be the return of discretion for officers. The problem is (well, ONE of the problems is) that discretion is something that police officers use which is NOT legislated for. The whole point is that we use discretion when slavishly following the rules is clearly not proportional and not in the public interest. What SWP&C is trying to do is legislate the way in which we perform a basic part of our duty which is outside the scope of legislation. So now we have to jump through a set of hoops, before we can just tick someone off.
Me, I just do what I did before - seems to work. The only people who don't like it are those who are more interested in accounting than in policing. For who they are, see my comment in paragraph 2.
Hmm a comment with paragraphs - clearly I'm not proud or confident enough yet.

28 February, 2010 13:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does appear to be the case that for 'Professional Judgment' we perhaps should read CAN'T BE ARSED.....

I'm surprised by you Bloggsy, publishing what was a PRIVATE message for you on your 'Dizzy' post, that was headed 'Not For Publication'. I did respond to your comment, that told me if it's confidential then don't post it, but it seems that in your 'Professional Judgment' you don't want balanced and fair comment. Just your own take on it.
My 'confidential to you' post, was a cry for help, from one female officer being treated appallingly, to another female officer.

But you did actually prove a point of the Intelligence records warning, that stated the government best not go down the road of collecting vast amounts of the population's personal details on computers. Because no matter how 'confidential' the information may be, it ALWAYS ends up getting leaked out into the public domain, and becomes the subject of gossip in communities. However, what is even more worrying is that misinformation in records, or sensitive personal details about people, once leaked by poor judgment and/or poor security, it places vulnerable people in danger from exploitation and HARM to them.

This is what has happened already, regarding a long term police Op. The information did NOT remain secure and the sensitive information was ABUSED by those who really should have shown a great deal more 'Professional Judgment'. And that includes the government, past and present, as well as top brass in the Met.


01 March, 2010 02:16

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I always enjoy sitting in on meetings where bosses exercise their 'professional judgement' to decide that a job wasn't a burglary, it was a criminal damage, or the robbery was a Sec 4 POA...
It tends to be DIs and DCIs who are the main culprits - these are offences which should be cleared up by CID (or at least a pseudo-CID team) so high numbers but low detections make them look bad. Solution? Not to admit that there is a burglary problem in a particular area but to blame uniformed response for poor judgement and naiive crime recording and get the crimes reclassified. There is no problem if we massage the figures...
As if you are any less of a victim if it's your front door that's now in several pieces.
The best part is, most of these crimes get re-reclassified anyway after the DI has 'intervened' so it's all just posturing for their peers. Move over Gene Hunt, I'm going to turn this aggravated burglary into a civil trespass...

02 March, 2010 01:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

07 March, 2010 22:09

Anonymous Black Mafia said...

There's 9 of us around this computer in the Mess with a total of 174 years service in the Army and every single one of us is horror-struck.

Is that really a serving Police Officer actually supporting the trampling of a photographers basic rights to be a British Citizen, in your own country, wandering around with a camera, merrily snapping away without being patronised, insulted and treated as a 3yr old by the Police?

Two of us are keen photographers and I was asked, in the South East, for my details after taking pictures, with my wife, of market days. In several towns if there was a copper I probably took their photo. I was asked to desist and show the pictures I had taken, I was asked for my name and address which I refused to give (I'm a British Soldier - not a poodle, the State doesn't own me and I have a perfect legal right to decline esp as I've done nothing wrong).

The experience was similar in that I was stopped a total of four times in 45 mins and I got a hairsbredth from being arrested. What the average copper may not understand is that even, maybe especially, people who fight for your freedoms and lives are pretty disgusted with some jumped up talking political agent spouting utter rubbish ...public safety around ...privacy.

I have fought and lost friends so that we as a nation can potter out and take pictures without a stasi agent beside you showing which bits you can photograph.

As for "would you him taking photos of your kids" I thought for a horrible moment I was watching trisha. If my wife and children are in a shopping centre they will be a) clothed, b) not doing anything wrong so why can't someone take a photo. As a copper you ought to know that the gap between public hysteria over "their kids" which, as Gadget noted didn't actually mean they cared for them much, if at all, is a long way from "reality".

Finally, after so much bad attitude I considered getting arrested then following conduct after capture training just to wind them up I gave them my name and address and showed them the pink ID card with the hologram & the red diagnol-striped "interesting" one.

A Sergeant said "I should know better" - my reaction is ... why? just because I'm in the Mob? My brother loves doing street stuff, he's not got my protection - why should he be picked on.

The country we're bleeding for is changing when we're away, then we get told that we may be a threat to security - EXCUSE ME? I've lost THREE GUYS in the last 12 months - I'm a threat??

This seems trivial but its not, it's really, really serious - I thought you guys had this forced on you - to find some of you believe the, Trisha led - men with cameras - paedos, rapists, terrorists - this is insane, it's changing the country - most of the best photojournalism of the last 100 years would be lost under these rules.

We expected better, that clip is a slap in the face to EVERY soldier - this is what we're protecting now??? I'm sorry but never will this behaviour be right!

(BTW: Black Mafia comes from the old quip about the SNCOs of the RGJ - tabs & buttons were black and the SNCO network was called the Black Mafia - rarely use now)

26 March, 2010 22:43


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