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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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Own Worst Enemy

"Hello left hand, it's right hand here, er... what are you up to? Been anywhere nice lately?"

As a supervisor, I am sometimes at a loss what to tell the young PCs on my team. For example, one earnest young chap came up to me recently and said:

"Sergeant Bloggs, should we be doing bail checks on criminals every night at 3am like the Area Commander says, or respecting the human rights and diversity of all citizens like the Chief says?"

As I stumbled, "Er..." another followed up with:

"Oh yes, and sarge, should I use my professional judgment to give a verbal warning to these two twelve-year-olds who pushed over another twelve-year-old in the park yesterday, as we were encouraged to do so on our last training day? Or shall I respond to this email from the Chief Inspector Responsible For Taking the Flak for the Superintendent's Ideas, and arrest them both to record a detection for violent crime?"

Before I could complete my, "Um, er, gosh..." another PC piped up:

"Bloggsy, do you want me to make sure I keep all of my three pre-arranged appointments today- in line with the Victim's Charter- or would you prefer me to spend the whole day dealing with the time-consuming first appointment- in line with Operation Thoroughness? Or as a third option, perhaps you'd like me to redeploy to some outstanding emergencies- in order to maintain our high call attendance rates?"

Unable to respond, I merely told the last PC to refer to me as "Sergeant Bloggsy", and locked the office door behind them.

Is it just me, or is that ambulance upside down?

Sometimes it isn't a case of Us and Them, sometimes it's just Us and Us.

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


Anonymous Pete said...

Does the phrase: "..head so far up one's own arse.." have any special resonance for you, Madame Author?

You are most definitely not any sort of capable manager.

You are certainly not any kind of police officer either.

You are just another public sector, tick-boxing , payroll parasite.

Publish this?

You would not dare.

You Bimbo

14 July, 2010 21:04

Blogger John R said...

Surely the answer is to ignore what all of the aforementioned internal numpties wants and to stand outside the whole organisation and think about what the public wants?

After all, we pay for you to do a job for us and nothing else. When we have directly elected Sherrifs (or whatever) I suspect taking the external view will become much more important to the whole heirarchy.

14 July, 2010 21:24

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might be out of context but shouldn't your blogg be PS Bloggs

14 July, 2010 21:29

Anonymous Not a Wodden Top said...

SAy to the first young PC " they are on bail, don't have any human rights check them at 3am and go back at 430am"

To the second PC, "why did you record it as a crime in the first place. It was an accident wasn't it"

To the third " Multi-task. I have to with all these silly questions being asked of me"

14 July, 2010 21:45

Anonymous ginnersinner said...

I wonder if we are sometimes the perpetuators of our own continued confusion. Has anyone ever replied to the CIRTFSI's e-mails with the syllabus to the training day to see how he would answer that conundrum, or do we simply sit around whinging that the stupid f***ers upstairs have come up with another stunner and simply get on with it. Perhaps if they had it pointed out to them that we couldn't do both they might at least consider changing it.

It's like when they tell us that the overtime budget is cut, so we all work for free, and they think 'oh good, the teams can function just as well with half the OT of last year' when in fact we can't really but just make it seem like we can.

14 July, 2010 21:47

Blogger blueknight said...

I was a Beat Officer at a city station that had 5 inspectors. One per shift. (We had Ottawa then).
Problem was that they each had special responsibilities and we were always given conflicting orders.
1. Work more earlies and do more school visits
2. Work more lates and sort out the clubs.
3. Sneak about on the estates and sort out all the car crime and shed breaks.
4. Go down the town in Hi offer reassurance to the foreign exchange students who are getting beaten up robbed or both.
5. Do more licensed premises checks
6. Every other crime is a bike theft. Stop check more bikes.

Tell them to keep copies of the e mails and memos and always follow the last order.

14 July, 2010 21:50

Blogger English Pensioner said...

Its not only the police which have such problems, everywhere we are given targets which are designed by paper pushers who have never been near the job.
When I was a duty engineer at the now closed Air Traffic Control Centre, they were a constant problem - Did I get the radar fixed (which was what the controllers wanted), even though I would fail to meet the target time which was less than it would take to get someone to the site, or did I get a technician to do some unimportant mundane task such as replacing failed panel lamps where we could meet our target time and collect our "brownie points".
The madness is everywhere!
I was glad to retire but even so, I now have to meet the targets laid down by management in respect of garden and house maintenance.

14 July, 2010 23:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tis why I do not like like being a ham sandwich. but good luck with rock and the hard place.

15 July, 2010 01:24

Blogger Crime Analyst said...

Good one Sarge. Simple but excellent real life illustrations of how utterly daft basic policing has become. I can't remember it ever being that bad when greater autonomy existed in the job, back in the days when the clarity of purpose was not so obscured by exterior influences.

Descretional policing should stretch much wider that custody sergeants having their charging powers restored. Experienced front line supervisors and PC's should be credited with intelligence and granted the discretion to make decisions based on common sense. Yes, mistakes will happen, wrong choices will be made, some with more serious consequences than others. But this is how we learn, from our mistakes, knowing from experience how to do it next time.

With clear policy and direction based on common sense, SMT's need to let the frontliners do the job and supervisors manage and make decisions based on experience. These would surely be closer to the right choices more of the time than the theoretical sisk averse directions of the upper echelons.

Excessive contradictory instructions and the subsequent confusion suggest there are Too Many Chiefs micro managing. The job seems infested with empire builders protecting their fiefdoms and justifying their continued existence.

We agree with many front liners and poilce officers over revent months, that any meanigful change must begin at the top. Can't see many of them being in a hurry to jump off the gravy train just yet though.

15 July, 2010 06:58

Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

The joys of young response teams eh ? Having done 11 years as a PC I've finally decided I need to get my skippers out the way and get promoted so will be sitting it next year. When I joined advice would have been sought from other members of the relief as we had quite a few then with over 25 yrs service, at my last team I was the longest serving PC and now am lucky enough again to be somewhere around the middle with my current team. Sometimes people could do with having a bit of common sense in the job and not asking which foot left or right to put forward. I've always found the simplest thing is do what you can each day to the best of your ability and you can't go far wrong if you have an emergency treat that as the priority and then get the other things done in between, hence why I do my paperwork in the car sometimes. Just my thoughts for the day after my delightful sixth night duty out of seven

15 July, 2010 09:31

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

Welcome to front line supervison!

That hard place bewteen the frontline and the dream factory

Tell them to do what is right and have an explanation ready for why it was right.

Change with the wind targetmentalists recognise a good argument when they see one and being confrontation averse (hence why they are focussed on targets) will avoid the conflict of the instruction.

The shift will recognise good advice and just do it, the perverse thing is that if you just keep doing the right thing, your shift will end up happy, fulfilled and extremely knackered! The targetmentalists will also be happy as the targets will have taken care of themselves.

The next problem is that the targetmentalist thinks they are responsible for achieving the targets using the crap they spouted earlier that you and your shift ignored, they will then change something that causes much unrest and unhappyness on the shift who will very quickly become unhappy, unfulfilled and extremely knackered until ignored the crap spouted has restored the happy status quo!!

15 July, 2010 10:08

Blogger CSI Guy said...

I enjoy reading your posts. Keep it up. That ambulance definately is upside down.

15 July, 2010 11:37

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Not a Wooden Top:
1) so what should they say to the Chief?
2) Police officers don't record crime, civilian call-takers do.
3) Er...

ginnersinner: do you think we don't point this out? I exchange a couple of emails every few weeks with the superintendent. It goes swimmingly until suddenly he stops replying.

15 July, 2010 11:56

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep a copy of all the emails. If the shit really hits the fan, claim lack of supervision or unclear instructions(non reply to genuine queries) This makes it a training issue and "lessons can be learned"

It has worked for me when I have had competing equally mad priorities set by different company directors and clients, although not in the police or public service.

Joseph K.

15 July, 2010 15:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely we are in the same Farce! We are going though our own Op Kneejerk at the moment with all the conflicting targets and commitments mentioned above.

Needless to say we are still also on The Pledge' as there hasn't been any clear guidance from the Home Office yet!!!

15 July, 2010 15:51

Anonymous Just a lowly PC said...

Pete's a nice bloke isn't he?!

If you can be a core Sergeant, you can do any job in the world. Just one step to Inspector, now that job looks easier, not as easy as a CI or a Superindentant mind you.

The easiest way to sort the police force/service out is to get rid of all the hierachy. After Inspectors, its ridulous. They get paid a fortune, work against each other and do little or no police work.

15 July, 2010 16:04

Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

In my force we still record most crimes ourselves as PCs although we have a Telephone Reporting Bureaus on some boroughs, they won't take any jobs from my OCU as its separate from the borough ocu even though we work the same geographical area. Great eh?

15 July, 2010 17:46

Blogger TonyF said...

Follow the 'Peelian Principals' and tell the rest of them to; 'go forth and multiply'

15 July, 2010 21:18

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'ginnersinner: do you think we don't point this out? I exchange a couple of emails every few weeks with the superintendent. It goes swimmingly until suddenly he stops replying.'

Same with management in police forces all over the world. The problem is when you email or speak to them about why their latest initiative is flawed, they may be 'hearing' what you are saying, but they are not 'listining,' and there is a big difference between the two. If they do not like what they 'hear,' because it is not in line with what they want (or will not get them their next promotion,) they just do not 'listen.'

16 July, 2010 04:31

Anonymous Not a Wooden Top said...

1) I accept your point. I work in a large Metrocity station. Never see the chief and don't think he would ever worry about bail enquires. If he did I would tell him that I'm trying to reduce the crime stats by ensureing the prolific offenders aren't out upto no good.

2) You can always Caution plus 2 interview them, issue the verbal warning and then say to the Chief Insp that you used your discretion. They can never take that away from you. Remember that Section 28 PACE grounds why being arretsed. Probably don't fit in this case. After a thorough interview I'm sure it will turn out to have been a game of tag and the young person fell over after beng tagged. Therefore no-crime and everyone is happy

3) Deal with the three appointments. Thay will give us 3 detections and then the points 1 & 2 will be forgotten and we will be the best thing since sliced bread

16 July, 2010 08:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You are just another public sector, tick-boxing , payroll parasite.

Publish this?

You would not dare."

She just did... You're also echoing what PC Bloggs said in her original post since I think that is kind of her point.

16 July, 2010 19:46

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what if the civilian call taker tells the victim that they will pass the details on to the appropriate local officers, and one phones the victim about the rather serious crimes.....and then states that the crimes of chidhood sexual abuse, the murder of ones sister and the crime of fraud and obtaining money by deception [by a copper].....are "not" a crime! Er...

And what if, the victim emails and writes letters to the police, C.C no less, and those are ignored? Er.....The answer might be to blame the previous NuLabour H.O and Gordon Brown!

Perhaps now there is a new government, the C.C might get around to resolving the issues! Er.... Well I can hope, can't I?

18 July, 2010 03:15

Anonymous drugsblogger said...

Dear oh dear,

Well done for publishing Pete's latest missive. Interesting that people who are on the losing end of discussions/disputes sometimes fall in to invective. You must get that kind of nonsense on the street all the time.

You are a manager though, you can't escape it. Once you have responsibility for line managing others that's it - management. But it's not all bad. It is possible to be a 'good' manger, toe the company line and also look after those reporting to you. Once you accept the management shilling you can fight like fury in management meetings but if a 'cabinet' decision is reached and you disagree with it, you still have to come out in support of it. You've had your say.

Management is also at least 30-40% personnel stuff. Dealing with their worries, personal problems, demands for sick cover, you name it.

But it's a great feeling when you get it (management) right. Good for you.

19 July, 2010 15:56

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Here's a way of resolving most of these issues:

"I'm sorry caller, public sector cuts mean we are unable to resource this matter. Seeing as it's a culmination of events which you have set in motion yourself, see if you can sort it out yourself. Thank you caller, and goodbye"

Maybe Facebook could employ some of the soon-to-be ex-public sector workers in its Complaints/Misuse Dept as well
"I'm sorry madam, your child isn't technically allowed an account at that age so your complaint is irrelevant. No madam, just delete his mother from your friends and I'm sure the whole thing will blow over without involving anyone else".

I'm not sure which of those scenarios is less likely...

19 July, 2010 17:27

Anonymous ParkiePlod1980 said...

As a matter of interest regarding management I've looked into sergeants single crewing response vehicles as a result of high up ivory tower management decisions, at the end of the day the buck stops with skippers so you are between a rock and a hard place, if single crewing goes wrong then ultimately a sergeant who has single crewed officers and not risk assessed it properly could end up finding themselves personally liable civilly, just another load of grief to add to your pile as a skipper

20 July, 2010 08:28

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most reasonable people upon reading "Pete's" ramblings, would come to the conclusion that Pete's a bit of a tw@t with a superiority complex, who cannot see reality because his head is stuck up his own arse.

Ever heard the phrase Pete "Who Dares Wins"? Officers do, often.
It takes all sorts to make up a world of human beings, and to protect them from dangers.

Ever heard the phrase Pete?.....
The public are the police and the police are the public.

So, if you can remove your head from your dark and smelly bumpit enough to see the light, why don't you join up, swear an oath to the Queen, and do my specialist job?

No, thought not......

Great blog by the way Bloggsy!


21 July, 2010 00:57

Anonymous Anonymous said...


25 July, 2010 08:15


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