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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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cutting the right things

In Blandmore there will be a couple of ongoing Major Crime investigations at any one time, either into sex attacks, murders, or other highly serious incidents. At least one or two will involve fast-time unfolding intelligence and a glut of information to be sifted through. For example, a media appeal into a serial sex attacker might result in 150 calls reporting suspicious vehicles, named weirdos and dodgy premises. One such call might involve an eight hour day of hunting down the lead to eliminate it or provoke further lines of enquiry. And one named suspect will involve 2-4 officers for up to thirty-six hours to secure forensics, search houses and conduct interviews. If it sounds cheap, it isn't.

Even where the offender is known and has been charged, these leads need to be followed to iron out any possible defences for the suspect or accusations of "tunnel vision" by the police, and to keep an open mind that we might have got the wrong guy.


All of this means that detectives will be seconded from all over the force for weeks at a time, to tackle this veritable onslaught of minor enquiries. A lot could be done by civilians, but if you use trained detectives they're more likely to pick up on the one snippet of information that opens a new line of investigation, and as police officers they are more accountable if they fail.


It is quite clear that the Met's investigation into serial sex attacker Kirk Reid did not follow this "gold standard" of investigation. Whoever allowed targets and minor offences to distract them from hunting down this scumbag is rightly now in the spotlight of the IPCC.


But what is also clear from the IPCC's findings is that no matter how much of a stranglehold the number crunchers of the Home Office gain over the police, no matter how much government pressure is loaded onto us, no matter how trivial and how wrong the focus of those holding the purse-strings, nobody in Whitehall will ever be prosecuted for a failure by the police to do our job.


If budgets must be cut and resources limited, as a citizen of this country, I know where I want the police's attention. Not on my Neighbourhood Action Group or the endless spats between mutually abusive families. Not on brawls between drunks in their own home, or the one-up-manship of a street of neighbours. I want it on vile domestic abusers, recidivist robbers or burglars, and the taxi driver who offers me a lift home, only to take another route.


If the police are to deal with any of the above in these hard financial times, it is time for us to say "No" to some of the people at the other end of the phone. That means upsetting a good proportion of the public, and attracting some negative victim satisfaction surveys from those who think the police has nothing better to do than stand outside their house protecting their parking space and trimming their neighbour's privet hedge.
It also means ignoring unachievable government pledges and taking direct control of what, how and when the police approach the tasks laid at our door.

If I were a Chief Constable, I'd run my police force exactly how I saw fit. And I'd take anyone to court who tried to stop me.


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

13 Comments:

Blogger MPS Probbie said...

I agree with you and suspect my idea of a worthwhile job tallies pretty well with yours. I would therefore be happy to see you as a bolshy rebellious CC as you describe!

I can't say the same about the majority of our current ACPO twonks.

29 June, 2010 20:05

 
Blogger JuliaM said...

"If budgets must be cut and resources limited, as a citizen of this country, I know where I want the police's attention. Not on my Neighbourhood Action Group or the endless spats between mutually abusive families. Not on brawls between drunks in their own home, or the one-up-manship of a street of neighbours. I want it on vile domestic abusers, recidivist robbers or burglars, and the taxi driver who offers me a lift home, only to take another route."

Not on photographers either, then? Good to know...

29 June, 2010 20:36

 
Blogger blueknight said...

nobody in Whitehall will ever be prosecuted for a failure by the police to do our job.

That would be my point. If it ever gets to Court, there are several ex Home Secretaries that should be standing next to them.

If I were a Chief Constable, I'd run my police force exactly how I saw fit.

I remember the days when they did..

29 June, 2010 21:54

 
Blogger John R said...

"If I were a Chief Constable, I'd run my police force exactly how I saw fit. And I'd take anyone to court who tried to stop me."

Which, unfortunately for us non-police folk, is why you'll not make it to those dizzy heights. Unless, maybe, Theresa arranges for a mass clearout of the current crop of gold braid covered box tickers and gives their jobs to genuine coppers.

29 June, 2010 22:06

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

With you all the way here Bloggsy.
The Pledge is going - good job we only spent a few million promoting that then. Maybe the other thing that needs to go is the National Standard for Incident Recording. NSIR was intended to rationalise the way in which different forces logged, recorded and graded calls to their control rooms. What it actually does is to remove all common sense and attempts at caller interrogation at the initial reporting stage for fear of misrecording and incident and being told off by your (normally civilian) manager. That's why "I'm being threatened on Facebook" is currently graded as Violence Against The Person, Pledged and given a one hour maximum response time, instead of saying "Grow up and/or delete your Facebook account".
If we didn't go to this rubbish we might save a few quid...

30 June, 2010 08:16

 
Anonymous Simon Baddeley said...

It could also be about more citizens "growing up" and learning about these dilemmas instead of standing back and seeing who to blame. I've been at police consultative meetings in my city where people who've been part of community governance, neighbourhood watch, resident's groups, friends of parks, shopkeepers where when debating these dilemmas faced by the police and indeed themselves they acknowledge choices all of us must live with. That's called democracy; the politics of limited resources. It means at local meetings citizens who can say to their neighbours (diplomatically) "Grow up and live with the fact that choices have good and bad results. Don't believe all you read in the rags. We're in this together." Far more than you'd expect actually get this message. Not everyone need be as ignorant or infantile as the top down approach assumes, but this does need politicians who will have the bottle to tell us to be self-reliant. You tend only to get these if there's a war (:)).

30 June, 2010 09:03

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it is time for us to say "No" to some of the people at the other end of the phone."

Perhaps it's time to get rid of the policing pledge.

I say, look at the news this morning! :D

30 June, 2010 09:11

 
OpenID inspectorgadget said...

"and to keep an open mind that we might have got the wrong guy"

I'd like to challenge your use of the word "guy". It makes it look like criminals can only be men.

See, one day of the targets being abolished and Diversity goes for a burton! Tsk tsk

30 June, 2010 19:13

 
OpenID allcoppedout said...

I think it's time to free people up to take cops directly to court, as well as local authorities and other bits of our over-protected public sector. We should have local law centres with investigators and lawyers to do this.

Police already let a lot of people down badly and cover this up, but so do housing and social workers. Just look at our lousy MPs. But if we take up my suggestion above, would it all end in the tears of constant litigation? A cop got £500,000 the other week because of what looks like fairly minor sexual (idiot) harassment by other officers. What would be paid out to families like the Pilkingtons, Askews, Boardman and many others if we allowed litigation fair-play? Would it be more than the IPCC costs to be so timid?

If we could bring victims' likely losses into the resource decision-making, I suspect we'd see more and better response cops. I'd guess idiot social and housing officers would get very reluctant to dump scrote next to decent people if they had to pay for damage to victims' health and life quality.

I wouldn't leave any decisions with Acpos or senior Town Hall clowns - just sack them. I don't have answers, but I'm sure we need a wider and more provocative thought experiment to prevent business as usual.
One good thing about senior officials being answerable to ballot is it might stop them being so sycophantic to political bosses. Seeing a few of them hung for juking the stats might encourage the others too.
Our legal system generally is too expensive and we should be cutting wages and waste across the board. If cops can't turn up we should hire more but only pay the same global amount. We need to be thinking these things.

30 June, 2010 21:39

 
Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Allcoppedout - I don't see where you're going with this. I agree, there is plenty of dead wood in the public sector and as budgets are reduced there are people who should be let go. There are also people who make awful decisions who should be called to account for them. But what are you taking them to court for?
If our legal system is too expensive why propose something which will create yet more litigation and add to the compensation culture? The only people who would benefit would be the people who work at the local law centres you propose - who are likely to be public sector workers themselves.

Radical shake-ups are fine until you start getting rid of the bits which actually work, all in the name of progress

02 July, 2010 09:31

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in every group there be
1; THE DOERS
2: those that teach to the new doers
3: those that preach and screech, usually promoted to the upper layers, there be exceptions rare tho.
4: leech they can mouth off and take all the credits.
Dungbeetle

03 July, 2010 03:36

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allcoppedout...but wouldn't the local law centres and lawyers just become another cog in the wheel of bureaucracy. Professionals investigating other professionals very rarely come out championing the cause of people like the Pilkingtons.

And wouldn't those who had done wrong, or screwed up, just bring pressure to bear on whoever was investigating a genuine complaint?

A complaint direct to the Home Office in the 1950's regarding the sexual abuse of children due to abuses of power by men in positions of authority, just made matters worse for a couple of the victims.....and nothing was done about the paedophiles then.

One of the kids did make a complaint via a lawyer when he grew up, but it never got to court because the paedos killed him.....and his death was wrongly explained as a "suicide".

There would need to be a joint action by numerous victims who at the same time were properly protected from those who would try to silence them, to protect their own reputations, jobs and pensions.

How do we sort that out in an already corrupted self protecting system? I don't know the answer.

03 July, 2010 23:55

 
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I would have far more sympathy with the police and their shortage of resources if I hadn't observed three police cars and I don't know how many officers with a radar gun stopping cars which were exceeding the speed limit on a virtually empty local "A" road one Sunday morning recently. There were few pedestrians about and there is a good footpath separated by a wide verge. Until about a year ago the road had a 50mph limit, but the council reduced it in the belief that it would help them meet some target(not that anyone was aware of any serious accidents ever having taken place along this stretch of road), so it is hard envisage any real safety problem.
It may have helped meet some policing targets, but it's done little for public relations.
PS I was walking home from church, so its not sour grapes!

04 July, 2010 18:56

 

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