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, February 05, 2011

Minority Rules

If you asked most people what democracy means, they'd probably say something along the lines of free elections.  What "free elections" actually means is that the majority voice will govern the country.  He who shouts the loudest, etc.

The Daily Mail is today outraged at Surrey Police's rolling road block that allowed Katie Price to get home unimpeded.  A lot of people will no doubt read the story and be equally outraged. On Breakfast television today a commentator speculated that the police must have been "star-struck" and that was the reason for the "waste of resources".  On the face of it, any decent tax-paying citizen would quite rightly be appalled.

How does the road block for Katie Price compare, however, to some of the following uses of resources recently by Blandshire Constabulary and other forces: 
  • Four PCSOs doing high vis patrols for a week due to "kids gathering" outside a local shop. 
  • A marked car being left outside an address for four days because the female occupant has been receiving nasty texts from her ex-partner.
  • A witness for a drugs trial being housed at public expense in a hotel for the duration of the trial, and being given a uniformed escort to court each day.
  • One social worker being given the protection of four armed officers, two traffic cars, four local officers including a sergeant, in order to go to an address and tell a mother her child was going to be taken into foster care.
  • A six week operation involving more than thirty officers, undercover surveillance, search warrants and high-tech equipment, all to find out which white van driver has been approaching schoolgirls and offering them a lift.
  • Two years spent bringing to justice the six or seven thugs who subjected one family to a reign of racist harassment, at a cost nearing hundreds of thousands to the tax payer.
All of the above are important to some degree.  All of the above involve a staggering expense and use of police resources on the needs of the few.  But how does that differ to the use of two dozen different medical staff to respond to a car crash victim with a badly broken leg, or six fire engines stuffed with firemen for one small house fire where no one is even trapped?

A true democracy is not about the view of the majority, but representation of the public- ALL of the public.  If that means Katie Price, perhaps at risk of being terrorised in her car by the dangerous driving of photographers, then the use of one single traffic patrol to ensure her safe passage home is a pretty efficient way of resolving the issue.  Who knows what information or intelligence led to Surrey's decision - after all, they don't escort her home with a rolling road block every day.

There are many occasions on which police officer waste their time chasing trivial offences to satisfy bean counters in their Headquarters.  Or jump through hoops to cover their backs against litigation or disciplinary action.  But the weighting of resources towards the minority in our society at greatest risk of harm is not poor judgment, it's our job.

Having said that, maybe Miss Price phoned up the Area Commander, and maybe he just wanted her autograph.

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


Anonymous A Polis Man said...

1st Do I win the signed photo?

05 February, 2011 11:33

Anonymous A Polis Man said...

And I read the post first, I think the point is best made by the line "they don't escort her home... every day", perhaps there is a picture due the fact that a photographer has been harrassing her all day?

As for waste of resources, have you ever seen how many photographers it takes to get a picture of a drunken halfwit nobody fall out of a nightclub? surely one would be enough?

05 February, 2011 11:37

Blogger Hogdayafternoon said...

Or one traffic car `inconveniencing` the great unwashed for 8 minutes and possibly preventing an arguably harrassed, mediocre driver and her also arguably harrassed mediocre passenger from being unduly pressured by journo's in wheels on a hellish (at the best of times) motorway and risking a prang and potential fatality and a disruption to said motorway for a lot more than 8 measley minutes? Princess Diana she aint, but public safety is a primary objective and that traffic car may just have made its major contribution to it during that particular tour of duty. (and by the way I was first, but I had to take a phone call and didn't hit the button - can't prove it though, but then neither could The Daily Mail).

05 February, 2011 11:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting that this should become a regular occurrence, but even disregarding the paparazzi there's always the possibility of her being recognised by a fellow motorist who decides that lane two is a good place to get his camera phone out.

I'm all for accountability and press freedom, but with great power comes great responsibility. Too many knee-jerk reactions are reported as news these days.

05 February, 2011 12:18

Anonymous Cabbage said...

As always a well-considered and thought-provoking post. Thank you.

05 February, 2011 12:57

Blogger jerym said...

As Cabbage said `always well considered and thought provoking`but please don`t let it go the way of gadgets equally excellent and important blog and encourage this silly race to be first.
Leave the dumbing down to the newspapers they are the experts.

05 February, 2011 16:18

Blogger Matt Walton said...

Excellent post PC Bloggs! Protecting people is the business you're in, after all. I sometimes thing a good chunk of people have it the wrong way around - you're not really supposed to be catching criminals (although that's important), you're really supposed to be preventing bad things happening. If you could do that perfectly, there wouldn't be any criminals because nobody would commit any crime.

Not very realistic, but it's good to have an objective.

05 February, 2011 20:49

Anonymous 20-1 said...

Could they not have stopped her on the hard shoulder and directed her to exit the motorway at the next junction, thus avoiding all the negative press?

This type of action opens it up for Linda Lusadi getting an escort to the panto.....

05 February, 2011 21:12

Anonymous Paul UK said...

Let's face it if the Mail wants to have a dig at the police they will do it whatever. I always joke with my friends that if an immigrant were to discover a cure for cancer, the front page of the Mail would be "Immigrant causes pension crises!" I noticed on Gadgets blog a story about Suffolk Police not being allowed to fly the Union flag but allowed to fly the gay pride flag. Yes, just to make the average Mail readers blood boil. Slight problem, it is not true!

In the same vein, remember the plot to kidnap Victoria Beckham? When it got to court the whole case collapsed. Shows what good friends of the police the press are.

05 February, 2011 21:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What amazes me most about this story is this:

"A spokesman for Surrey Police said: ‘The officer did the right thing on this occasion and Surrey police fully support his actions.'

That sounds a little bit like a force actually supporting their officer before there's been an IPCC (spit) investigation!

06 February, 2011 10:21

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

"Maybe Miss Price phoned the Area Commander and maybe he just wanted her autograph"
No he probably wanted to get in her knickers if the antics of most Superintendents are anything to go by.

06 February, 2011 16:48

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

What would have happened if one of the drivers behind the patrol car had decided "F*** this" and gone past the rolling block?

Are they legally enforceable?

06 February, 2011 18:40

Anonymous Lance Manley- Former Stab Proof Scarecrow said...

Off topic but my opinion of the last couple of days (EDL, Cameron, Police).

06 February, 2011 20:06

Anonymous Mac said...



The relevant powers to impose cordons/roadblocks etc. come from various statutes depending on the circumstances but provided the action is lawful then they can be legally enforced.

The crucial point, as Ellie and others above say, is that they don't do this every day so there must have been some specific reason to do it that day, that for operational reasons they haven't divulged. Not that the Mail would let that get in the way of a good rant. The press are now fully in the business of printing assumption as fact to generate comment.

My wild guess is that we can expect a very public court case involving the stalking of a 'pnuematic' celebrity in the next 6 months or so.

06 February, 2011 20:09

Blogger English Pensioner said...

And then there is me who doesn't even know who Katie Price is!
Presumably some sort of celeb, but if she hasn't got a blog, I wouldn't know.

06 February, 2011 21:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind providing a road block for Jordan so long as we also provide one for Peter Andre.

Equality don't you know!

(and by the way Paul, you can say what you like; we don't fly the Union Flag from our nick, despite what your internet research says, because the BCU commander says it would upset the minorities in our town, and that's from EXPERIENCE not research).

07 February, 2011 14:12

Blogger Hogdayafternoon said...

Flying the English flag at Agincourt upset the locals, but at that time they were on our land. Confusing, this flag flying malarkey - best stick to `when in Britain.....` simpler all round.

07 February, 2011 19:46


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