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, March 14, 2011

On Your Head


The story of two Northants bobbies who "refused" to attend a stabbing should be a cautionary tale.  Before condeming the PCs concerned, it's worth mentioning some salient points:
  • There's no information about how much detail was in the call. It was initially shouting and screaming, then a mention of stabbing.  At what point were they asked to attend?
  • In Blandmore, there is at least one "stabbing" a week, sometimes several over a weekend.  About 10% actually involve a knife, and 1% serious injury or death.
  • There is a duty sergeant and inspector, plus control room sergeant and inspector, who should be making resourcing decisions and challenging any officers who they believe should be using their time differently.
  • Everything is more important than prostitution, in terms of immediate unfolding crime.  If officers redeployed from an operation to cover all of these incidents, they'd never identify any repeat offenders or deal with them, and local residents do appreciate these operations.
All of that said, I am in disbelief that any sworn officer would rather spend his or her time trailing prostitutes around than going to a stabbing.  Er, well, almost in disbelief.  The point at which my goodwill evaporates entirely is where I read that a single-crewed colleague had to disarm the suspect AND deal with a dead body.  Did those officers still not redeploy?  The article isn't clear.

The pairs' defence was that their inspector would not have liked them to abandon the operation they were on.  In front of the IPCC, and in the pages of tabloid newspapers, that sounds like a flimsy excuse.  However, it is not uncommon for Operation Orders and emails sent out by both DIs and neighbourhood inspectors in Blandmore to include one of the following phrases:
  • Officers will not be redeployed from this operation without direct authority from the inspector/superintendent.
  • Any officer redeploying from the operation will be in my office the next day to explain why.
  • Response inspectors are under no circumstances to redeploy officers from this commitment for emergency commitments.
I for one am glad this case has hit the news.  It provides protection for my officers, committed on hi-vis foot patrol for this or that CID investigation, or on one of the DI's performance-enhancing assault/robbery/burglary drives, to pull themselves away from that if something more important comes along.  It is now plain, in black and white, the IPCC (not to mention the public, and the grateful duty resourcing sergeant) expects officers to attend emergency incidents happening nearby.  If that sounds absurdly obvious, that is the stage we are at.
In fact, in the above scenario, had they attended and found a minor wounding requiring a few stitches, their inspector or DI probably WOULD have been irritated to lose his staff to another job.  He/she'd probably even send out one of the above phrases in email form, to make sure it didn't happen again.  If anything similar had been said in this case, whoever said it was careful enough not to put it in writing and has consequently been able to deny it.  If that sounds cynical, consider the fact that I have a special folder where I save emails that my senior managers might later regret sending.  In a culture where performance is based on numbers and promotion on write-ups of operations like these, real live policing is more an inconvenience than our purpose.
I'm not defending the disciplined officers.  Nothing was preventing them popping down to secure the place for paramedics, and then returning to their operation - had it turned out to be minor - once local units were on scene.

But it's worth considering the context in which their laziness arose, and the decade of performance culture that has allowed it to breed.  Either way, I'll be storing the newspaper cutting in a back drawer, and pulling it out every time I need to drag officers away from vital operations to attend the next violent domestic.  
If nothing else, it's proof of the fact that those at the top can say and do whatever they want: at the end of the day, the decisions of a front-line police officer are the officer's, and the officer's alone.
* Before anyone writes in, these aren't the bobbies in question.

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


Anonymous A Polis Man said...

well said and certainly more informed than most in the Hail

I understand they were put near the scene by airwave location and we all know how accrate that is don't we!

They certainly had been there but how long since had they moved on?

and First

14 March, 2011 17:47

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall arriving at work, the first day back after a set of rest days and being a Beat Officer having a shed loads of emails and jobs left for me.
My Inspector came in saying forget what your doing there is a juvenile assault that hasn't been sorted for a few days...i know it's not your area but you will have to sort it.
A shout from a Sgt 10 minutes later saying we have a murder scene that needs guarding, you will have to do it. I point out what the Insp. tells me and he says a murder takes precedence over an assault and he will tell the Inspector.
2 minutes later a call comes in from the Duty Officer in the control room....drop what your doing, we have an elderly male who has gone missing from hospital....i point out the above and he says...a life to be saved is more important than guarding a scene....
I told my Inspector that i will do whatever i am asked to long as someone decides so i don't drop myself in it.
We have constant battles between response and beat supervision, often leaving us to take the flak from one or the other.
At one point we told the Inspector we were going to stop organising operations as they were always getting cancelled and we kept having to apologise to other agencies who had turned up to be let down.
Never least i've got a good pension to look forward to.... oh.

14 March, 2011 18:02

OpenID inspectorgadget said...

'Response inspectors are under no circumstances to redeploy officers from this commitment for emergency commitments'

As far as I am concerned this is an unlawful order. I have seen it at Ruralshire too. Once in particular I ignored this instruction (long story) bottom line: nothing happened to me.

Oh wait........... yes it did, I'm still an Inspector!!

14 March, 2011 18:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without knowing the full details the papers reported this in the most anti-police way as yet another drip-fed story to undermine us.The first of many to follow as we try and negotiate our futures.Hopefully the govt will try and cut the pensions of journalists so they might be a bit more sympathetic to us.

14 March, 2011 19:26

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have a special folder where I save emails"

I do hope that isn't on your work computer, as they can easily remotely delete that kind of thing. Paper copies, in triplicate, with at least one set doing the rounds of the international postal system... can never be too careful these days *twitch*

14 March, 2011 19:28

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Polis man - they were near the scene by their own admission when they were requested to go.

14 March, 2011 19:39

Blogger The World Weary Detective said...

As a response Inspector, I am continually fighting the uphill battle of incoming emergency calls vs units available. My units. I am often surprised to suddenly discover various other squads (dedicated to one operation and nothing else) Safer Neighbourhood Officers (can't leave their council ward) and Specials appearing out of the blue to request something over the radio, then getting the arse when we don't bend over backwards to deal with them straight away. They NEVER deal with calls. This puts me in an impossible position. When the shit does hit the fan, and I argue lack of resources, any canny solicitor will merely point to the CID (on overtime) SNT and various other passing officers to deny my outer. Oh well, at least the SMT will take the blame from my shoulders...

15 March, 2011 18:44

Blogger jabba said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

16 March, 2011 13:33

Blogger jabba said...

This pair allege they were on an anti prostitution op in Northampton and then followed a car 7 MILES to Roade, the scene of the stabbing, yet can't produce a registration number or any supporting notes.

I'm a little sad to see you guys defending them

16 March, 2011 13:33

Anonymous Anonymous said...

jabba, I don't think the post is defending them.

17 March, 2011 20:34

Anonymous Mac said...


Read again. No one's defending them. As usual Ellie is just painting the picture behind the scenes that doesn't get in the papers and highlighting the hypocracy of senior officers. Every word she has written is true, but any decent officer should have ignored any dictat under the circumstances.

18 March, 2011 18:37

Anonymous Long Time Gone said...

On the day this first became public knowledge the DCC on Radio 4 agreed that the previous evening (to the stabbing), The IPCC investigation revealed that one or both of the officers had left their post to look at a house for sale. That did it for me.

20 March, 2011 19:40

Blogger staghounds said...

"I have a special folder where I save emails"

Also if it's on the work comp the bosses can know you saved it and construct their charges accordingly.

Knowledge is power but only if you keep it to yourself.

28 March, 2011 15:32


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