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, March 18, 2010

A police farce

According to this article, the following phrases are forbidden in various forces:
  • Evenin' all.
  • Christian name.
  • Gang rape.
  • Child, youth, youngster.
  • Mixed race.
As well as some of the above, Kent Police also asks officers to remove their shoes when they enter someone's home.

I may not be an inspector, and I may not deal directly with formal complaints to the police, but I can guarantee you none of the officers on my team or in my station have ever been complained about for using any of the above phrases, or for wearing their shoes. They HAVE been complained about for:
  • Rudeness.
  • Lack of consideration.
  • Leaving mud all over someone's floor.
It seems to me that senior managers and chief officers are unable to take responsibility for disciplining those officers who repeatedly cause offence - not by any particular phrase but by general behaviour which may include one or other of the above phrases used inappropriately (such as calling an eighteen-year-old "child", or saying "Evenin' all" when someone has just died horribly, for example). And so instead of taking the problem of supervision and discipline in hand, guidelines get issued so that forces can say "Since this incident we have amended our policy".

In my limited experience as a front-line PC and sergeant, all the public want from the police is to be treated as human beings. They actually don't give a damn what words come out of our mouths, if they come out embued with compassion, patience and a willingness to help.

If you make people afraid to open their mouths at all, nothing can come out, good or bad.



PS The only time I'll take my boots off in someone's house is if they are (a) muddy and I'm going to be sitting taking a statement, (b) I am 100% totally utterly certain that no one is going to stamp on my toes before I leave and (c) there are no lego pieces lying around.

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

34 Comments:

Blogger Bystander said...

Aaaah! Lego!

What can be more painful than getting up for a 3 am pee, and treading on an unnoticed Lego brick? My kids are grown up now, but I am a granddad, and the problem is re-emerging.

18 March, 2010 22:59

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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don't quit and keep writing considering the fact that it just simply very well worth to read it,
excited to look at more of your own web content, goodbye ;)

18 March, 2010 23:42

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if a person is born of two people of different races, or a mixture thereof, how are you supposed to describe them?

Christian name... Ugh. Come off it?

Gang rape... Again, if a person is raped by a group of people known to be in a gang, then what?

Child, youth, youngster. Ok enough!

Five years ago I would have laughed heartily at the prospect of any of the above. Now... I would gladly embrace the genocide of the morons who put this utter garbage out. This culture of offence and the fear of it has to stop.

Repeat after me: There are no bad words, only bad people.

Trying to brush things under the carpet that you don't like by banning them does not help and is a sure-fire way of causing the original issue to fester into something much, much worse.

/rant

19 March, 2010 01:41

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Oh dear...
Not originally hailing from these parts, I was amazed to hear anyone, of any age, referred to as 'youth' (that's 'yoth' spoke proper) - but it's the 'mate' of this area. You will never hear me say it, but 'Ey oop mi duck' is the 'Evening all' of this region. Offensive? No, because it's just a turn of phrase.
If this is all bosses have to worry about, we must have won the war against crime (can we call it a war?) and there can be no bigger issues to address.
Just goes to show - they are like the leaders of Krikkit, divorced from what everyone else wants.

I have never taken my shoes off in anyone's house, but I have wiped them on the way out of several...

19 March, 2010 03:31

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACC in the link story is the one who forced everyone in Kent to start pronouncing his name "Boatridge" after he was promoted, because he believed it sounded posher, and more suitable for his rank.

Funnily enough, his brother has been promoted twice since he became an ACC too.

19 March, 2010 06:07

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

I suppose "You're 'effing nicked mate" is out of the question in Kent then?

19 March, 2010 06:09

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the money again! Yet another example of how qualities such as 'judgement', 'discretion', 'integrity' and 'professionalism' are being replaced by 'protocols'. Throughout the public sector there appears to be a drive to replace competent human beings with the living equivalent of a computer program - a jobsworth with a clipboard & piece of paper covered in boxes to be ticked off. Not just the police, but doctors, nurses - any profession that might have been thought to be 'vocational' in nature.

Sadly, these 'protocols' having been bleeding from the public sector into the private, manifested by things like the "computer says no" mentality that many of us will meet at most days. Still, we all need to be "brought into line" with something, don't we? The BBC seems to be telling us that quite often.

Policemen who have what use to be the right stuff are being driven out, or retiring (or expiring in some other way) to be replaced by a different type. A type more comfortable with not having to think or taking the risk of making a decision. Ultimately, types that are more corruptible - and then we'll have been brought into line with a number of other European countries I can think of.

It's only blogs like yours, Gadget's & a few others that give me any hope.

Ray.

19 March, 2010 08:56

 
Blogger Boy on a bike said...

Oh for crying out loud - muddy boots?

Had two officers around last year to deliver some less than pleasant news to our family. Just before they had been tasked with that, they'd been out in the weeds doing a drug bust, and they were filthy.

Do you think we gave a bugger that they left a few spots of dirt on the carpet? Hell's bells, they've got a tough job at times, and the last thing they need is MOPs getting all precious about the state of their shag pile.

19 March, 2010 09:47

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly I think I'd cause more offence if I removed my Altbergs on entering someones house towards the end of my twelve hour shift...I also think the house would empty fairly quickly.

19 March, 2010 11:47

 
Anonymous Cadbury Moose said...

Bystander wrote:

"What can be more painful than getting up for a 3 am pee, and treading on an unnoticed Lego brick? "

1) treading on an upturned 13A plug

2) (_much_ worse) treading on a DIL integrated circuit.

The latter obey the "butter side down" rule and lie on their back with anything from 8 to 40+ needle-sharp pins in the air, playing dead and awaiting an incautious footfall.

19 March, 2010 12:33

 
Blogger Hogday said...

I'd rather put on a pair of those blue elasticated covers you get at all good swimming pools if you need to go `poolside` in your daisies. Removing footwear is a health and safety matter - and I can't believe I've just said that.

19 March, 2010 13:33

 
Anonymous R/T said...

. . . or sticklebricks!

(That's one for the more elderly!)

19 March, 2010 14:17

 
Blogger WeePeeCee said...

Ah ha! I have foiled the Daily Mail's evil plan (to make me look at their filthy website by writing silly rage-inducing stories) by checking the URL before clicking on the link.
In your face Daily Mail!

19 March, 2010 14:54

 
Anonymous Lizzie Love said...

Teachers aren't supposed to use the expression 'christian name' either. I think that's fairly standard in the public sector now, because one might 'offend' somebody who isn't a christian, though I don't think many people would really be offended by it! First name is used instead. The others you mention are just plain daft!

19 March, 2010 15:01

 
Anonymous Jack and Daves Dad said...

Fantastic observations. Once again. Keep it up Sarge.

19 March, 2010 17:57

 
Anonymous Serpico said...

I once asked my tutor whether I should take my boots off upon entering a house. He looked at me and said, “Don’t be daft”. When we got back in the vehicle he told me that under no circumstances to take my boots off. He went onto explain that if we needed to quickly assist a colleague or member of public, putting our boots back on will delay precious seconds. I have never forgotten those words of advice plus him telling me “Don’t be daft”.

19 March, 2010 19:44

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

I have a Christian name (not personal name) and a wife (not a "partner") and she (not he) has a Christian name too!

My Christian name is Inspector and hers is Mrs.

Bah humbug!

19 March, 2010 20:05

 
Blogger Sean said...

And for the rest:

My wife who I have been married to for 20 years is mixed race, and cannot understand why that is an insulting term.

I learnt to really dislike Gypsies where I grew up, but when I went to live in Switzerland had a Gypsy woman take me under her wing and look after me, for which I am always grateful but:

Gypsies are very house proud.

Not wiping your boots before you go into someone's house is always rude and leaving your tea on the floor is always a bad idea because you can guarantee that your colleague will kick it over.

But as a copper or you really should not take your shoes off, because you might need to run away or fight.

Fighting in bare feet is for the dojo.

Show shoe covers and ask respectfully if you can come in wearing those.

19 March, 2010 23:13

 
Anonymous shijuro said...

I received a complaint at a Burg Dwelling- the owner was a Muslim chap - and wanted me to take off my shoes before entering the crime scene- a crime scene- covered in broken glass... now I wouldn't walk on the glass on purpose with my shoes anyway- however, feet covered in socks are not good protection against glass...

I explained this and that the scenes of crime would need to examine etc... he SEEMED ok ...

I had a nice 'interview without coffee' ... about that one...

reminds me of the joke...

boy to dad as they pass two horses having sex - 'dad whats that horse doing?'
dad- 'err... the one horse has a bad leg and the other is helping him to the vets...'
boy- 'isn't that like life dad?'
man-'how so?'
boy-'you try to help someone and the f*** you'...

eh?

20 March, 2010 09:39

 
Anonymous Graham said...

@Lizzie Love: "Teachers aren't supposed to use the expression 'christian name' either. I think that's fairly standard in the public sector now, because one might 'offend' somebody who isn't a christian"

Alternate theory: those born abroad (including in Christian countries), and possibly some of our own Waynes and Waynettas, will understand "first name" a lot easier than "Christian name"... Nothing to do with offence, just gets the job done quicker.

Given that Bloggs' link is to the Daily Heil, I presume that even if there is a germ of truth to the original story, they've followed their normal procedures of distorting it out of all proportion, as detailed ad infinitum on the excellent Tabloid Watch blog.

20 March, 2010 13:55

 
Blogger Paul said...

OK, I hate to seem pedantic here. But having worked in an international environment including, Europe, America and the far east, I can understand the reason for not using the term Christian name as it is not used in most of the world. All you will if you ask for someone's Christian name is a look of bewilderment.

20 March, 2010 20:27

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the shoe covers. I am a newbie and given how long I take to get the boots, fiddle with laces, do and undo said laces to get boots off. And what if a call comes over the radio for urgent assistance that involves running out of said house to rescue colleagues? "Be there in the next ten minutes mate, must get my shoes on and then add running time. Try to hold him down until then.Yes I know he is trying to strangle you,but you know force policy" I carry shoe covers in my kit bag. Yes I get odd looks from the guys, but one day they will thank me if our force follows Kent.

We ladies plan ahead!

Scully

20 March, 2010 23:07

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I am not a Christian, but I have a 'christian name'. I know who both my parents are, but I have a surname rather than a 'family name'.
I am proud to be a Police Officer, but (apparently) my Force is the worst in the country.
If this is the worst they can come up with, bring it on...

21 March, 2010 00:34

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shijuro....many a true word is spoken in jest! This I know very well from many a gobsmacking experience. You really couldn't make it up.....

21 March, 2010 02:16

 
Blogger Joker the Lurcher said...

there are quite a lot of houses where being unshod would run the risk of stepping on needles - nothing would possess me to take my shoes off in that sort of place. and its not always apparent at the front door...

21 March, 2010 08:02

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is a Christian name? Is it only one of the name's of the apostles? One that appears in the New Testament? Or, does the old testament count? Equally, do names from the Koran count? What if one has a name of a saint that has never appeared any of the books of the bible or Koran? Or, one is from the far east? I have a rather unusual 'christian' name. One that I have to repeat to some people when they first hear it. However, I am not a christian but of a different faith, albeit with an unusual saint's name and I never object when I am asked for my christian name. After all I live in a country which has been shaped over many centuries by a general christian belief and values. I do not get offended when such a phrase is used. It is so ingrained within the language of this country, that it is a subliminal reflex and asked as a matter of course. In India, one will often be asked, "What is one's, good name?".

This has undertones of Goebbel's propoganda.

Agent Zig Zag

21 March, 2010 17:51

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to an RTA where both cars were badly dented. Oil and guts everywhere. I was told an IP was in a certain house, the door was open so I walked in and found her. Unfortunately my oily footprints on a newly laid cream carpet were quite horrible, I still break into a sweat when I see the cleaning bill sent in later.

21 March, 2010 21:04

 
Blogger blueknight said...

I went to an Indian family's house to take a statement.
I began to take my shoes off at the door. They saw what was happening and began saying 'You don't have to, we're Hindu not Muslim'.
I explained that I knew this and I was only taking my shoes off because they were muddy and I did not want to ruin their carpet.

22 March, 2010 20:32

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ask for "first name" rather than christian name its been drummed into me.

Great blog, love, and have a great evening!
Minty

22 March, 2010 22:36

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Officer, please keep your athlete's foot and verruca infection to yourself... not to mention .. the smell.

Seriously, you guys cannot win this one I fear.

Have you considered quitting the mad house for a saner job? I'm sure there is more crazy stuff @ work you're not telling us about, once it gets to that dysfunctional stage, there is always more and those things tend to get worse, not better.

23 March, 2010 09:29

 
Anonymous shijuro said...

I use the 1st name thing too- because a lot of my 'cliental' have a tenuous grasp of English and wouldnt get the Christian name...

Some of the pol cor stuff is BS - some is quite right, I mean- times change yes?

We wouldnt be calling fellow officers 'choccy' or WPCs 'splits' or 'cherry' or 'plonk' or 'peewee'?

too right...

23 March, 2010 10:41

 
Blogger Metcountymounty said...

Shijuro, same here, I've always asked for first name and family or last name. I was told at training school in the post MacPherson 'we're all racists even on day one' era that we shouldn't use the term Christian names but given most people I deal with - especially now in central London - it's just easier.

Re the Lego versus plug debate I think a Lego man with a hand in the air is incredibly painful but nothing beats the late night lights off stroll to the kitchen to get a drink and all your body weight going onto the tip of an upturned plug. Ouch.

24 March, 2010 19:52

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, as a female, I'm not bothered nor offended if a man calls me "love" or any other term used in a spirit of friendliness or affection. Can't say that I've ever heard the terms Shijuro mentions though, for WPC's! He must mix in some very odd circles!

What I find deeply offensive and insulting, is people who maliciously and deliberately, leave MUD all over my name and reputation, in their secret files, and then spread gossip about that nonsense all over the place. Usually this is done to victims of abuse, by those who wish to keep their crimes hidden by "muddying" the names of the innocent.

The government really should DO SOMETHING about that sort of outrageous behaviour......

Minority Report Officer

24 March, 2010 21:39

 
Anonymous Shijuro said...

The other thing I though of is: a little shiver went down my spine... I read my old books from time to time and read George Orwell's ,'1984' a couple of weeks ago.

Isn't this exactly what he predicted? That our language would be trimmed down? Isn't this 'newspeak'? Aren't the PSD and IPCC. A form of the 'thought Police'?

Scary stuff....

25 March, 2010 08:17

 

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