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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Monday, August 16, 2010

Helmet and Safety

It is not news that police officers generally are not allowed to chase motorcycle riders who are not wearing helmets. In many forces, we are not allowed to pursue motorcycles at all. The fact is, in a crash involving a motorcycle, there's only one person bound to be seriously hurt or killed. There's also one person who is extremely likely to get away by passing between close-set bollards or onto a footpath/cycle track, so it's pointless chasing them anyway.

But there is something distasteful about the police publicly announcing that they will not chase motorcycles, or motorcyclists without helmets. It seems akin to saying, "If you're going to commit crime, you may as well do it in the most dangerous manner possible because then we won't be able to stop you".

I think what grates most on the public is the thought that individual police officers do not have discretion to act on their own initiative. That we may see something happening in front of us and the first thought is not what the best reaction might be, but "What does the force say I must do about this?"

Force policy is nothing new, and it's often in place as a reaction to an event that the force anticipates being criticised about. This means eighteen months later when the media or investigation panel publishes their conclusions, the force can respond by saying they've already fixed the problem. Plus they might actually fix a serious problem, which is a convenient side-effect.

The public know all this, and yet the physical enactment of force policy in front of their eyes can be a shocking experience. Although they will be the first to clamour when it isn't followed in a case relating to someone they heard about last week. Which is really about communication: the difference between, "Thank you for stopping, sir, as it happens there's just been a nasty robbery and you look just like the description I've been given, I won't hold you up for too long" and "Oi, you, where've you just come from?"

In any event, when it comes to the pros and cons of wearing motorcycle helmets, yes it may be true that without one the police will not chase you from the scene of your crime. But if you wear one, you can rely on the defence used by a youth on whom I recently served papers for an identification procedure:

"How can they describe my hair as brown, if I was wearing a motorcycle helmet when I did it?"

Perhaps we should just deal with motorbiking criminals like they do in Spain?

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


Blogger Gary Williams said...

It's almost funny. The media would be the first to shout if a robber on a motorbike was killed in a pursuit and they are the first to complain when the policy is to not chase motorcyclists.

Another lose-lose situation.

As far as I'm concerned the criminal forfeits the right to protection when they break the law. Of course, this doesn't mean everyone should be pursused because you still have to think about Joe Public who do have a right to protection.

16 August, 2010 20:55

Blogger Little Duck said...

What wonderful logic, eh? And what a convenience for the criminals of this country. Completely agree with the statements about the media - damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Just want to say, I am a huge fan, and an aspiring police officer. However after reading your blog entry on WPCs Bloggsy (quite an old entry, I believe) I am keen to avoid this stage of policing. As I am near approaching the stage of education where I am forced to determine my future career, I am hoping that you may assist me in an inquiry: will I be able to have a police division sponser me throughout university (if, of course, I achieve outstanding A levels)? And will I then be able to (almost immediately) enter CID?
Thank you :)

16 August, 2010 21:27

Anonymous ginnersiner said...

No and no. The police won't pay you to go to uni, and you'll have to do two years probation before you get near the CID (except for attachments and trying unsuccessfully to hand over your burglary arrest because 'it's a walk-in theft')

WTF is a walk-in theft anyway, if not a burglary?

16 August, 2010 23:41

Blogger Little Duck said...

Thank you ginnersiner :)
I think that I'll just skip uni then, avoid the cost and the struggle to even obtain a place, and start work immediately.
Unfortunately I cannot answer your question, because it has completely baffled me. I didn't even know that there was a seperate term anyway (and a stupid one at that). West Midlands police define the term as: 'where people leave valuables unattended and thieves steal them behind their owner’s backs'. Basically, theft by stupidity.

17 August, 2010 01:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a recruitment freeze everywhere at the moment.
I would advise some life experience before joining, its not like "Street Crime" and you have to be an exceptional 18 year old to deal with a domestic between 40 year olds without coming across as a total prick.

17 August, 2010 01:16

Blogger Little Duck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 August, 2010 01:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check the Daily HateMail - nearly 400 comments on their 'article' covering this incident (slanted to make the police look hopeless, as usual). There is hope, though - lots of pro-police entries from the MOPs on there. Mayhaps we're getting through to them at last.

Anyway, off-topic but anybody read this little beauty - Pocket Notebook by Mike Thomas? It's by a serving UK plod, and is totally bonkers.

17 August, 2010 06:50

Blogger Tulip said...

What a wonderful video. Cops v Crims, 1-0. More of the same always welcome.

I do strongly believe we have become risk averse, taken away simple decision making away from the front line officers, introducing more policy than ever before.

Is it time for officers to be allowed to catch criminals, not watch them float on by?

I agree officers should not use more power than needed, and should be appropriate to the force needed to apprehend a criminal. Currently they are laughing all the way to the courts as they get off Scott Free, or soft jail terms. Heavy handed cops we do not need, tough cops to get the job done, we do need.

17 August, 2010 10:25

Anonymous Conor said...

"How can they describe my hair as brown, if I was wearing a motorcycle helmet when I did it?"
That's a defence? When he's admitted he did it?

17 August, 2010 11:33

Blogger Little Duck said...

Sorry Pete, but what the Hell is your problem? What do truly believe you are achieving by posting pathetic and immature comments? If you have a problem with the Police Force, you go and change it as opposed to just venting your *stupid* opinions on blogs. You’ve dedicated a portion of life to just writing comments, when you could have been doing some…constructive.
I KNOW! How about you try and comment on-topic, actually point out the police failures, seeing that they really bother you.
(Thanks to everybody's help last night x)

17 August, 2010 11:37

Anonymous TheBinarySurfer said...

Force policy is often ridiculous though. The local policy where I used to live (near a rail hub) was that no pursuit would be carried out if they ran onto a railway line. Guess what; all the local crims started using the railway after a job.

It does make me laugh that somehow the notion that wearing a helmet will keep you alive if you come off a motorbike at speed.

Speaking from experience, in all but relatively minor crashes they do very little anyway; especially the helmet. Look at it like this; your head in that crash helmet in a serious collision will have a comparable effect to putting a Vole in a tin can and throwing it off the top of a tower block (please don't actually do this I don't need the RSPCA knocking at my door).

Generally speaking, at anything over c40mph (less if you hit an solid object while coming off), the kevlar/leathers and helmet are not likely to do a huge amount aside from keep your extremities on, and at c60+ all they are likely to do is provide a convenient, ready-made body-bag for the local morgue and prevent some luckless council road cleaner from having to scrub off the 40 yards of fairly icky friction-burned skin and muscle you've left on the road off.

How many pursuits do you do that stay under 60, let alone 40? (not many i'll wager).

17 August, 2010 13:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All "real" cops are gutless payroll parasites.
Real crims scare them shitless

:-) Pete, perhaps you could give some examples of your daily bravery and include some anecdotes of "real crims" you have approached/arrested/prosecuted ?

I wait with eager anticipation.


17 August, 2010 14:42

Anonymous DBRG said...

@Pete "...white noise...hysterical nonsense...white noise..."

I refer the honourable ladies and gentlemen of this post to Charlie Owens' excellent book on rigorous policing "Horse's Arse".
Included therein is the textbook method of dealing with fail to stop bikers.

Pete - my two-year-old's got some colouring-in books you can use. Ah. I see the problem. Get an adult to read this post to you, preferably just before you bugger off and die.

17 August, 2010 18:15

Blogger blueknight said...

not to put too fine a point on it, but Pete's little problem is noticeable in the shower.

17 August, 2010 20:17

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Little Duck: I'm not sure which post you are referring to but it was almost certainly ironic. Nowadays I'm not so ironic, I'm more often openly acrid. Which is probably something to do with my length of service: after a while you realise no one can hear you if you whisper.

But I would advise something that sounds simple: don't join the police if you don't want to be a police officer. You can aspire to detective work, but you have to love the uniform first.

17 August, 2010 20:19

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Little Duck, get the best education possible that you can, read, read, lots of Uni books available for free or near free, it is not how much you know, it is how you use the knowledge that you do have, and always seek work that pleases you, then if happy, then you can grow.
Money is only a tool that you can use to enjoy your brain.

17 August, 2010 20:22

Blogger Hogday said...

Read about Fred Hill and see how the mighty British Law can meter out punishment when it really wants to.

18 August, 2010 12:47

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

It's a shame Fred died in custody, but it was his choice to take that risk. If he'd worn a helmet, he might have died at home surrounded by family.

Don't think we can blame the police or the British justice system this time, Hogday.

22 August, 2010 17:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first I was quite annoyed by this post, but after a little more thought the worst you are going to catch me doing is going slightly too fast. A fine, a few points, not worth the risk of trying to run.

On the other hand, I would be very happy if you splatered the asshat that stole my last bike. I will never get to ride it again anyway, and dead dudes can't steal bikes.

09 June, 2016 06:17


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