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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Monday, March 29, 2010

Legal, decent, honest, truthful

A Home Office advert for the police has been banned because the Advertising Standards Authority branded it lies. Of course, the ASA doesn't actually brand things as "lies". But it does say that they "break the rules" on being legal, decent, honest and/or truthful. Ie, lies AND immoral.

The key "lie" in the ad was that police officers will spend 80% of their time "on the beat". The ASA pointed out that this only included a fraction of police officers and anyway "the beat" actually includes being in meetings, offices, and doing related paperwork. For example, if a neighbourhood officer attends a report of burglary at a local supermarket, they may spend an hour at the premises looking at CCTV, writing a statement and checking out the scene of the crime. The government would have you accept that time as "beat" time. Worse, they want you to accept that being in a three hour Neighbourhood Action Group meeting is pounding the beat.

"Don't look round. If one of them talks to us we might have to leave our beat."

The public thinks that being on the beat means walking around local streets available for questions, problems, and on the lookout for crime. The government knows the public thinks that.

In fact, most police areas are so busy that a neighbourhood officer will never spend 80% of his or her time pounding pavements unless he is to completely ignore all crime going on around him. Either he will attend reports of crime in his area, and spend 1-2 hours dealing with the resulting paperwork (assuming there's no arrest to be made or ongoing enquiries with witnesses, in which case the time spent will be considerably more). Or he will hear reports of crime from nearby areas, or areas more distant, and not to attend could be neglect of duty, or just plain lazy.

So there is no such thing as being on the beat 80% of the time, unless you staff a police force so vigorously that there are armies of officers walking around with nothing to do. Nobody thinks we should do that, I don't think.

Perhaps, instead of releasing adverts full of deception and untruths, the government should try to push the message that we should not ask for police officers to spend 80% of their time strolling about town when there are unattended reports of burglary, robbery and assault.

Perhaps the government should admit how seriously under-staffed towns in Britain are, and do something about it. Then there would be something worth advertising.

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


Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Does plain-clothes foot patrol in a burglary hotspot count as being 'on the beat'?
I wasn't obvious to the public, so presumably they weren't reassured by my presence. In fact, they probably wondered what crime I was about to commit as I wandered about in my 'I'm not a Police Officer' outfit.
But not one of them was burgled, so it was time well spent.

That's what I keep telling myself. I was actually gutted that everyone I saw was going into town to enjoy themselves. I suspect 80% of them did.

Do the public want to hear these strange, made-up stats and look at crime maps in various shades of grey, or do they just want the Police to turn up when they need us, 100% of the time?

29 March, 2010 16:57

Anonymous R/T said...

It was always a crock, wasn't it? I walked the beat in The City in the 80's and probably just about managed 80% (ie - 6.5 hours). Mind you, there was virtually no crime and very little to write up other than the odd process book, etc.

For these shysters to "promise" that we'll spend that amount of time nearly 30 years later is, frankly, taking the p.

29 March, 2010 18:55

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

Excellent and spot on as usual bloggsy

29 March, 2010 21:24

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To justify NOT telling the truth to the public, about the strain being placed upon all police officers, all over the U.K, because of the nightmare of form filling.....which keeps them off the beat....the Home Office will spout the age old get out clause of not wanting to "Undermine Public Confidence in the Police"....and probably also, not wanting to undermine the "reassurance" of the public, of an effective police presence in the community.

They also use the above "justifications" to cover up very serious and appallingly criminal behaviour of men in high places, in the police and judiciary, like paedophiles. Those of the lower ranks will be exposed in the media, if caught, so that the police et al are seen to be doing the right thing.

Also, a public admission of insufficient police on the beat, could be seen as an encouragement for those intent on breaking the law, like burglers et al.

Government will always find a way to wriggle out of mistakes THEY make, but God help the rest of us if we do, because we are human.....which makes the government not exactly humane.....


30 March, 2010 02:21

Anonymous Shijuro said...

A Little Story of car crime by Shijuro.

Once upon a time there was a team assigned with the difficult task of reducing crime on the un-manned car-parks in the big Metro-city.

Crime was rife... Naughty car criminals were breaking into 20-30 cars every day and Mr Joe/Josephine Public were not happy and threatened to make a complaint.

The Gaffer (scared of not getting his bonus) thought hard... and said 'Robbery team! you are now a Vehicle team! Go get em!!!'

The clever sergeant thought for a moment and said, 'mmm, boys and girls on with your uniform and patrol the car-parks'.

And they did.

Many days passed and at the end of the month the Supt was so pleased- he actually smiled... 'Car crime is down to 3!!! Three!!! what a good job I did...' He turned to the prisoners arrested book.

Then he felt sad...

'Where are the prisoners???', he boomed... 'There aren't any sir', said the clever sergeant, 'because we scared them away with our scary uniforms'.

Supt could see his bonus fading... 'Well get those uniforms off and the 4 of you get out on those car parks and sneaky catch the baddies!'

The next month the figures were back to 20 again and the supt moved away.

The moral?

Gaffers know FCUK about policing and what is IMPORTANT...

(closes book) hope you liked it...

30 March, 2010 10:40

Blogger uniform said...

The politicians are the police and the police are the politicians

30 March, 2010 20:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God.....

(walks away shaking head in despair)

31 March, 2010 17:54

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God.....

(walks away shaking head in despair)

31 March, 2010 17:54

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I just read that you wish the Government to admit to a mistake?

Without blaming someone else?

What ever next, a claim that MP's claim too much on the expenses?????

I am in shock

01 April, 2010 13:21

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the end of the financial year dawned my SMT were bemoaning being just in the red on crime figures.

This is the same SMT that at the start of the same financial were demanding that we go out and arrest everything that moved (or didn't) to maximise detections.

I felt at the time that the two targets were contradictory, but who am I, a mere plod. Had a good laugh though.

02 April, 2010 18:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Neighbourhood Officer this was 2009;

Jan - May: We're not to investigate crimes. SMT want us and the PCSO's out on the beat in hi-viz.
May - Sept: Forget the above. Hi viz in "hotspot" areas on the division lock up for Section 5 and cut Anti-social behaviour.
Sept - Oct: Patrol the local council Community Safety Team identified crime hotspots.
Oct - Dec: PANIC! we're short on detections. Abandon uniform. Plain clothes crime Op's. Lots of arrests

02 April, 2010 18:55

Anonymous Dud said...

Abrahamic ?

04 April, 2010 20:40

Anonymous Sergeant Knothead said...

80% , 20%

I am a regular PC Pareto

06 April, 2010 21:52

Blogger Big Fella in Blue said...

have a look at the post, its a surprising email from SMT

07 April, 2010 07:47

Blogger Big Fella in Blue said...

We used to have 8pcs, a Sgt and an Insp for our city beat team now theres a sgt, a pc and 3pcsos. Obviously thats not all the police we do have a response team on duty but still I cant remember the last time I actually saw an officer on the beat and I am one!!!!!!
There is too much crime to deal with thats happened before you can conduct some preventitive pro active patrolling. And with the cuts we're not taking on more officers so SMT have to juggle with where needs the officers most and thats not in villages and towns just walking the beat.

07 April, 2010 07:54


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