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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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Too Young to be Raped

The Daily Mail this week questioned whether it is in the public interest, or anyone's interest for two 10-year-old boys to stand trial for raping an 8-year-old girl. The judge in the case has asked for a psychological report to find out if the victim has been damaged by her cross-examination.

After questioning by the defence, the child in question agreed that she had lied in her original testimony. Yet the jury were apparently not satisfied that her new version was true, and found the boys guilty of attempted rape, but not guilty of rape itself. In one sense it was of little importance in the case whether the girl had resisted or agreed to the act, as she is legally considered too young to consent. But the Crown Prosecution Service may have thought twice about prosecuting for consensual acts, given the young age of the offenders. The boys in question could still have been placed under Sexual Offences Prevention Orders, if they were seriously considered a threat.

I think most of us agree that the rape of an eight-year-old is something that should generally be prosecuted. We probably all also agree that eight to ten-year-olds mucking about experimentally is not a police matter, and that consensual sex between them would be dealt with by parents, social workers and psychiatrists.

But what concerns me in the case is this:
  • A psychological report afterwards is all very well, but if the judge wasn't happy with the manner in which the girl was cross-examined, why didn't he stop it at the time?
  • If The Daily Mail and its readers can identify that this case may not have been appropriate to bring to court, why do they feel so differently in the James Bulger case, where clearly they believe children can indeed transmogrify into "pure evil" at the age of ten?
  • Conversely, why can the Mail and readership not identify that there are adult rape cases with similarly conflicting factors that mean they should not go to court, and this is not necessarily always a judgment on either party?
Either way, the boys in question are unlikely to go to prison, but will no doubt be given counselling and an order to sign the sex offenders register for the rest of their lives, with little effect on the safety of society. The girl in question will go back to school and re-live the experience when she's twenty-five, wondering what on earth it was all about.

So on this occasion I'm inclined to agree with the Mail. What exactly was the point of it all?

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Four Years - the new Life

Three men hit a passer-by over the head and steal his Blackberry. The man later dies from a brain haemorrhage as a direct result of the blow. Despite the victim not telling anyone what had really happened, it is mostly caught on CCTV and the offenders are later convicted after trying to blame each other for the crime.

The offence of Robbery carries a maximum life sentence in this country. Even if you accept that the offenders did not intend to kill the man, most people would still consider this at the upper end of seriousness as far as robberies go. You would therefore expect a pretty lengthy sentence.

In fact, Roshan Samedov, Jegir Ahmmadi and Awat Muradi have been sentenced to nine years each, which means if they behave, they will be out of prison before they reach the age of their victim, 24-year-old Saravanakumar Sellappan.

I have no doubt all three of these men have committed violent crimes before. You don't just wake up one day and decide to attack and rob someone. We'll never know, because juvenile offences get written off at the age of eighteen, and offences committed abroad are seldom researched or taken into account (the three arrived in the country in 2007). Either way, can 4-5 years really be the price of a Blackberry and its owner?

What sentence can we expect for Kes Nattriss, who didn't even successfully kill anyone (this time)?

The new government has set the ball rolling promising greater charging powers for the police. When can we expect the review of bail, remand and sentencing that will ensure there is actually a point to the police charging anyone at all?

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's bad for the police is good for the police.

A detective has been stabbed trying to apprehend an armed robber. Let's hope and pray he pulls through.

The plainclothes officer stumbled across a robbery whilst on unrelated enquiries with a colleague. Now he's serious but stable in hospital, with his family at his side.

Sometimes people need a reminder of what our job actually involves. They shouldn't.

It makes me sad that the only time you see the words Hero and Police in the same headline is when someone has died or nearly died. Every time we stumble across a crime, every time we go to make an arrest, someone could pull out a knife and put us within an inch of our lives. We know this, and yet when it happens we still feel betrayed, we still become angry, we still get scared.

Not scared of trying to take down the scum. Scared that no one appreciates our efforts. Scared that we may die in the street at the blade of someone who will be free from prison before our children grow up to wonder what we were like. Scared that we're fighting a losing battle, and that one day no one will care when they see our name in the headlines.

Here online, anonymous bloggers have taken on an abstract war against negative media headlines, and the desire of the state to shut the public sector up. Winston Smith has won the Orwell Prize in the name of that war.

But that's a glory for another day.

For now it is just about a man, and his colleagues, and a bedside in intensive care.

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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Invisible Reserve Army

Richard Garside, author of the latest enthralling report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, has pointed out that police overtime has doubled in a decade, whilst police strength has also apparently gone up. He seems to feel this is indicative of a "reserve army" being paid large sums to be trained just in case something happens.

I have no idea who Richard Garside is, but he seems to have a different definition of "reserve army" to me. Overtime gets paid when demand outstrips resources, and officers have to be asked to stay on for extra hours or work on rest days to cover commitments. If we had a reserve army, standing by to cover large-scale emergencies and one-off operations, why would we need to pay overtime? We would just use the people standing by in reserve, who would be paid their flat rate salary.

A few years ago I challenged a senior officer on why response teams were being stripped down to their bare minimum, so that a busy town was being staffed with a third the number of officers it was when I joined. He said to me, "The point, PC Bloggs, is not to have a standing army."

He meant that it was a waste of money to have officers driving around without a job to go to. That we all had to be 100% busy 100% of the time.

Unfortunately, he forgot that just driving around without a job to go to IS part of our job. In fact, it's the part of our job the public want us most to do.

If you strip response teams down to the bare minimum, your only hope if and when major incidents occur is to call in officers on overtime and rest days. This puts strain on your front-line, which means they call in sick, meaning you have to make other shifts stay late and come in early.

If I can grasp this, why can't Richard Garside?

I think the question we should all be asking ourselves is who on earth donates money to this Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, and how soon can the money be redirected somewhere useful?

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Finger off the pulse

Clearly I am existing in a space that moves at a different speed to the rest of the world. When I went to work yesterday I was under the impression that Nick Clegg had given Gordon the elbow, paving the way for a LabLib coalition. When I got home, David Cameron was Prime Minister.

Could it be that burglars, thugs and deviants actually do not care who or what our government is? Could it be that they know whatever laws are repealed or enacted, the greatest punishment the state can offer their crimes will result in them grinning broadly as they stroll out of court?

A pay freeze is on the way. Respect for the police is at an all time low. Targets are still flooding down from the Police Authority; resources are still insufficient; they still haven't fixed that wobbly wheel on the chair in my office.

Good thing we don't do it for the money. Although none of us would do it without it.

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

Sunday, May 09, 2010

If Brown Won't Go

Every police officer knows the scenario: after weeks of negotiation, the new tenants of an address are given the keys and come home to find the previous occupant still squatting there. The landlord immediately calls the police, expecting us to turn up and forcibly chuck the old tenants out.

"Hell no, we won't go."

When, in fact, we turn up and start talking about Notices to Quit and Displaced Residential Occupiers, most landlords become exasperated. The fact is, even if a tenant has failed to pay any rent whatsoever and has ignored all calls and letters, unless the correct Court Order has been applied for and granted, it is strictly illegal to forcibly remove them, cut off their water/electricity, or wait until they are out to change the locks. indeed, to do so would be an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and the displaced tenant would have the right to reenter the property by force.

In the case of 10 Downing Street, there might be several options open to the new tenants should Mr Brown refuse to leave following a successful coalition agreement:
  • They can serve a statutory notice, giving Mr Brown a set period to pack up his things and go.
  • They can then apply to a court for an Order permitting them to remove him.
  • If granted, the police can at this point assist in an enforced eviction.
Unfortunately, the eviction process may well fail at the court stage. It is not clear whether, as a grace-and-favour home, 10 Downing Street would qualify as an assured shorthold tenancy under the Housing Act 1988. That is, unless the landlord (the Queen??? - reader's views welcome!) has issued the correct notice of address and can show that Mr Brown has breached any of the terms of the agreement. (Perhaps by designating another address as his second home, or by causing harassment, alarm and distress to other occupants - allegedly.)

Indeed, as front-line officers in England and Wales will testify, the "moodiest" jobs we attend are landlord/tenant disputes, as we have virtually no powers to deal with them.

So should a coalition be formed this week and the new leaders of the nation find themselves standing at the door to No.10 with a key that doesn't fit, their best bet is to take the course of action favoured by most Blandmore residents, to bypass all Housing law altogether: phone the police and allege that there is a High Risk domestic situation and Gordon Brown has assaulted them. He'll quickly be arrested and given bail conditions not to go back there.

Job done.

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

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Good old "front-line" services

In the run-up to Thursday's election, parties are falling over each other to promise that they will not cut "front-line" public services, whilst falling even faster to give various plans to reduce The Deficit.

David Cameron said this morning to Andrew Marr that if one of his ministers came to him with an idea for cuts that involved reducing front-line services, they would be sent away to think again. In almost the same breath, he said that the Conservatives would freeze public sector pay for a year. Other parties have suggested they might go further and cut public sector pay.

There seems to be a delusion that somehow public sector pay is unrelated to the service the public sector can offer. A not-dissimilar delusion to that held by Blandshire's Senior Management Team that performance is unrelated to workload, complaints not connected to motivation, and mistakes nothing to do with exhaustion.

Make no mistake, if you cut public sector pay, front-line services will be the first thing that suffer. And THAT'S an Election promise.

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


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