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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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Common ABH

One of the genius parting blows of the last government was to change how police forces record certain crimes (again). Now instead of recording Common Assault, Actual Bodily Harm, Grievous Bodily Harm, in that order, we are obliged to record Assault Without Injury, then ABH, then GBH.

The thinking behind it was that police forces were recording rafts of minor injury assaults as Common Assaults, because they didn't count towards the statistics for violent crime. Technically, an assault with a minor injury is an ABH - because the legal definition of ABH is pretty much any "actual" injury that is more than transient. But in reality anything less than stitches, extensive severe bruising, extended unconsciousness, broken nose, etc, will be charged as Common Assault when it goes to court. So the police were skipping out the charging decision and listing the assaults as slightly less serious than they actually were.

Lo and behold, the introduction of a new kind of crime: Assault Without Injury. No longer can minor bruising and grazed knees be recorded as Common Assaults. They clearly involve injury, so they must be recorded as ABHs even though they will never be charged as such, if they are even serious enough to be charged at all. When the case is then filed with no action, or charged as Common Assault, the ABH will lie on the system undetected - unless someone can persuade the auditors to reclassify it as an Assault Without Injury... which it isn't because there WAS an injury, just a minor one.

If you're still with me, I suggest you join the Civil Service.

The result of these presumeably well-meaning shenannigans: statistics for violent crime are through the roof and Chief Constables are wringing their hands, "WHY?"

No wonder we're all confused about whether violent crime really is going up or down.

The good news is, if you're a violent criminal, whether your crime is recorded as Assault Without Injury or ABH will not make the blindest bit of difference to your sentence: you'll still walk out of court laughing.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my force, we have the Section 20 Minor, which I've never quite understood. It lies somewhere between ABH and GBH.

It's a great game for the crime assessors to move things from Section 18, to Section 47, then coming to rest somewhere around Section 20.

Complete and utter madness!

12 August, 2010 23:30

Blogger Gary Williams said...

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. Funny how the Government of the day will proudly show just how low crime figures are whilst fiddling the books.

12 August, 2010 23:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my force we can detect a recorded ABH if they are charged with s39 assault.

13 August, 2010 12:13

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assault *without* injury?

Ok, it might be because as a lad during secondary school I took one too many knocks to the head during rugby but the above simply doesn't make any sense?

I mean if you can assault someone without injuring them in any way, presumably it would make it an offence on paper to do any of the following:

Wear loud shirts
Look at people funny
Be Brian Blessed.

Help me out here folks!

13 August, 2010 17:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say if I gently push you, that is an assault and unless you are an overipe peach at the time of the push you probably would not recieve any kind of injury.

13 August, 2010 18:28

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

If you wave a stick at someone and they think you are going to hit them, technically in law that is a common assault.

13 August, 2010 19:43

Blogger blueknight said...

... unless you are an overipe peach at the time of the push you probably would not recieve any kind of injury.

An over ripe Blair Peach?

At least you have SOCPA arrest powers. When this 'charge ABH as Common Assault' rubbish started, there was no power of arrest for Common Assault.

There was so many rumours about there being no power to arrest for an ABH that will be charged as a Common Assault, that the CC had to explain to the whole Force that the arrest powers for ABH remained even though the charge would be Common Assault.

13 August, 2010 21:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on a sec Bloggsy....."If you wave a stick at someone and they think that you are going to hit them, technically in law that is a common assault."

So it's a "thought crime" then?

And what about a copper holding his or her baton ready because they "thought" they might be attacked by someone, perhaps a granny, who was annoyed and shouting at them and telling them how useless they are at doing anything about the really serious criminals?

The granny might "think" that she's about to be hit by the copper, so could she bring a complaint of "assault without injury" against the police?

This sounds barking mad to me.

14 August, 2010 02:06

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

"And what about a copper holding his or her baton ready because they "thought" they might be attacked by someone, perhaps a granny, who was annoyed and shouting at them and telling them how useless they are at doing anything about the really serious criminals?"

Yes, also an assault, but with the defence of self-defence.

You seem to be accusing me of making the law...

Most crimes are "thought" crimes, because the British legal system relies heavily on the concept of criminal intent, with most offences requiring a certain state of mind to be made out.

14 August, 2010 13:22

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got me wrong there Bloggsy! If I were to accuse you of making the law, then I would come out with it straight, but of course I'm not accusing you of anything. I cannot see how you would assume you were being accused of something.

Thanks for the explanation though, which clarifies what puzzled me a bit.

15 August, 2010 00:56

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Fair enough- Not all British law makes sense even to me and I've studied it more than my fair share of times believe me!

15 August, 2010 19:44

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

I see Pete the Troll is back, are we ignoring him again? I think we should.

15 August, 2010 22:51

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police turned up to my house recently suspecting some sort of assault or domestic abuse. My girlfriend is extremely arachnophobic and saw a very large spider - cue lots of screaming including 'help' and my name. I joked and said calm down or the police will be round. We went to bed. The best part of an hour later, multiple cars screech up to the house and 4 officers are hammering at the door being fairly patronising and clearly not believing a word they were told. They wanted to check inside for intruders in case anyone else was here (we didn't let them) and then hung around outside for another 20 minutes outside our door. They were only acting on a phone call and doing their jobs but I felt we had been marked as guilty from the start. If they were that sure then they should have got here a lot quicker!

What are the chances on this being flagged against us or our address as my girlfriend is incredibly embarrassed (especially that she might bump into the neighbours) and we both go through disclosure checks for our jobs? If it happens again (we didn't catch the spider) should we have let them in or is there anything we could say or do to help?

16 August, 2010 01:10

Anonymous ginnersinner said...

I imagine the coppers who turned up to your house will now be drowning in e-mails along the line of 'why haven't you done a domestic incident report book?' and 'why was no-one arrested from this domestic incident?'

16 August, 2010 08:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought they might be - don't blame them at all for their apparent desperation to find anything to arrest us for and I suspected it would be target related!

16 August, 2010 09:25

Anonymous painauderriere said...

We should all complain. I think we should.

.....BTW Bloggsy, now that you claim to have been promoted, do you issue your own targets for detetections now?

16 August, 2010 10:29

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Anon 01:10, do you propose that the police should not attend next time your neighbours report hearing screams for help?

Painauderriere, no.

16 August, 2010 15:38

Anonymous Anon said...

They attend.... then after being put in their by real people who deny them their b*llshit "detections", they sulk and linger whilst real crime is being perpetrated.

The police are a joke.

All they care about is trivial rubbish.

Real crims leave them sh*tless

16 August, 2010 18:45

Anonymous Drugsblogger said...

This is a very strange string. Almost surreal. In fact it should be the makings of a piece for 'Newsbiscuit'. Assaulting peaches gently? Blair Peach reference (not warm, not funny), police making the law up, arachnophobic domestic incident requiring hordes of cops attending. Dear oh dear.

I think the point is that some people do hit other people or make them think that they will be hit, i.e. intimidation unless it's in self-defence. Being nasty to other people, physically or verbally is a bad thing and should be punished. Please can we see the Met officer kicking off at the going-home-news vendor in court? We've all seen the footage and the photos. But no we can't. One law for the police I guess....

17 August, 2010 17:15

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

drugsblogger - without getting into the whole G20 thing again, it actually illustrates an important point for the whole common assault/ABH/GBH thing. Common Assault is a "summary only" offence which means that after 6 months it will 'time out' if procedings haven't begun. By the time the G20 case came to CPS for a decision, 18 months had passed, so it would be impossible to charge common assault (which is all the PC would have been up for).

I too remember the days when common assault did not carry a power of arrest, so it was rarely recorded. It was either an ABH so you could bring someone in or the job got written off as a bit of push and shove with no injuries or complaints. As soon as the SOCPA legislation went live, recording of common assaults spiralled, not least because it was generally a quick and easy detection. CCs didn't know whether to panic at the sudden increase in recorded crime or be delighted that detections were up. Life for everyone else went on as normal, as I recall...

20 August, 2010 10:30

Anonymous Adrian Peirson said...

Has anyone ever had the feeling that there are posters lurking who deliberately want to alienate the police and the British public.
This is what you would expect in a War, this is what they did in Nth Ireland, sow division and doubt in the IRA.
Is it not beyond the realms of possibility that the EU would employ similar tactics against the British people, in order to set up their police state.
It's standard procedure in some circles.

David Noakes on Edge Media TV: 8/11 'Exposing The EU Dictatorship'
at 7’30”
David Noakes, exposing the EU Dictatorship

24 August, 2010 21:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has been a long term plot going on to undermine H.M's Police force and to usurp it's role, powers and authority, by granting undue powers to numerous government agencies.....DWP...HMRC..Social Services....Health Authorities....Local Councils.
This was the New Labour Orwellian 'vision'.....the reality is a Stasi state. Cameron's Big Society will just make the situation WORSE, not better.

27 August, 2010 02:52

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I do think that it is one law for the police, and one law for some of the other government agencies too, and the politicians....but God help any MoP who makes a mistake or breaks a minor rule in this unfair system.

BTW, I have caught 3 rather large spiders in the past few days....No screaming, no fuss, just caught in a pint glass and then released into the garden. No doubt they'll be back at some point. I have had to learn to not be frightened of them. I don't dislike them really, but don't want them running around whilst I'm in bed asleep......Noooooo!

27 August, 2010 03:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone can help me.. I had a tooth broken off in a violent crime and a tooth chipped... What would be the outcome for the person who did this to me usually? Thanks

10 February, 2011 11:10


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