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, May 28, 2011

Everything that can be counted

If I were a government minister whose job it was to set the culture and tone of a fundamental public service like the police, I'd like to think that when I announced something, the leaders of that public service listened.

I'd like to think that if I told them to scrap a worthless gimmick, ditch time-consuming performance indicators, and abandon bureaucracy, I'd feel pretty humiliated if I found out that every Chief Constable in the United Kingdom had totally ignored what I asked.  I might actually prefer not to know, so that I could go on blithely proclaiming new measures to be similarly ignored in favour of sticking to the old performance and blame culture.

Fortunately, Our Lady of Police has a better grip on ACPO than that.  Luckily, she's able to stand up to the throngs of self-serving chief officers mindlessly pushing through their vision for a new police force with themselves squarely at the centre of it.

Which is why, in Blandshire Constabulary, we no longer have targets for crime detection or reduction - as long as each area does better than the area next door, nothing will be measured at all.  We are daily introducing extensive policy documents to get rid of bureaucratic processes foisted on us by the last government.  And every other week I receive a three-line email telling me to stop doing things that I had eight hours' training and daily emails telling me how to do for the last two years.

I'd like to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with Theresa May.  Specifically, I'd have just one question for her:  It just so happens that we're not detecting too many assaults right now, whereas burglary we're way up on last year.  Funnily enough, this morning I had to ring up three burglary victims and tell them I had no officers to send them because all my staff were dealing with petty assaults and squabbles between family members and schoolchildren.

My question to the Home Secretary: Coincidence?

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


Anonymous Cabbage said...

First! (Easier here than Gadget's blog.)

You know, officer, sometimes your mixture of seriousness and deadpan sarcasm means I need to reread your posts to figure out what was actually being said. Perhaps this is just because I'm thick.

Occasionally I'm so thick even after rereading I'm still confused, and I fear this is such a case. In particular, your fourth paragraph confuses me. What has been scrapped, what has been 'scrapped' (wink wink, the home sec won't know any better), what openly remains that should have been scrapped, and what new crap has been introduced?

By the way, I love this blog and have recently bought your book, which I love too. I feel as though reading blogs like yours and Gadget's gives a real insight into the reality of policing and the mismanagement you have to deal with. I also like that your posts are generally more intelligent, thoughtful and nuanced than Gadget's, and that this feels like a place where debate and reasoned alternate opinion can exist without being met by a torrent of incivility. It's a shame you don't have Gadget-like numbers of commenters.

Anyway, thanks for this blog and please do keep writing. :)

29 May, 2011 11:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff......however this culture will never change.Not so long ago I was called in on a rest day (+15 no OT) on my weekend off to deal with a 10% increase in burglaries on my borough. I was on the crime desk at the time and looked into the figures.My (very busy) borough had about 10 burglaries a day,it had gone up to 11.That is only an increase of one,or 10% depending which way you want to spin it.
At the briefing on the Sunday the DCI came and spoke to us and thanked us for coming in,like we had a choice.A grumpy Sergeant asked him what day the burglaries were happening.He shuffled around and said "mainly Tuesday and Thursdays".The Sergeant replied "what the f@@k am I doing here on a Sunday then? Tumbleweed moment.

29 May, 2011 15:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think these posts are generally more intelligent, thoughtful and nuanced than mine but earlier in your comment you say you need to reread the posts to figure out what was actually being said, and that even then you are still confused.

Can you see now why I keep things simple? It's for readers like you!

29 May, 2011 16:04

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Cabbage - gosh if I started to list things, we'd be here all day, but the short answer is: targets have been scrapped. Targets have been "scrapped". Targets openly remain, and new targets have been introduced.

Clarified things?

29 May, 2011 21:36

Anonymous SC16 (retired) said...

You no longer have targets but somebody is still making comparisons with the other areas? Shome mistake surely? Does Anonymous get extra points for seeing a DCI on a Sunday?

29 May, 2011 21:53

Anonymous Cabbage said...

PC Bloggs - yep, that clarifies things. Thanks.

30 May, 2011 11:32

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

I noticed the other day that, on our Command and Control system, a job had been tagged 'Pledge ETA given'. Interesting, what Pledge would that be? I asked someone in IT if that tag could be removed as there is no pledge, to be told that the Chief had specifically said that it should remain and be used. It turns out that, although there is no Policing Pledge, the principles were so sound (and cost so much to deliver repeatedly to the naysayers) that it lives on both in spirit and as a C&C tag. Theresa May (and Winston Smith) would be delighted.

30 May, 2011 11:55

Anonymous Sgt Knothead said...

.... and this means that I cannot get crappy bullshit "detections" for arresting kids for squabbling in the playground.

30 May, 2011 22:46

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I love this blog and check it daily for new updates, but the guy above is right. This post is not very well written and it's not clear what your point is.

01 June, 2011 08:40

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't understand this post and I have a Phd.

01 June, 2011 15:36

Anonymous Noggsy said...

It makes perfect sense if you are used to political doublethink and having goalposts on wheels for ease of movement.

02 June, 2011 12:29

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

The point isn't meant to be clear. Sometimes there is safety in obfuscation.

02 June, 2011 14:32

Blogger Nationalist said...

So what you're saying is that targets were supposed to have been scrapped but they haven't been, and the HomSec either doesn't realise her orders are being ignored or doesn't care or does care but doesn't have the balls to bang Chief Constables' heads together and make it happen for real.

Alternatively maybe the HomSec wants to pay public lip service to the Tory mantra of reducing bureaucracy, while in private being very much in favour of targets and has tipped the wink to the Chiefs accordingly.

I expect at the top of the tree targets are seen as keeping the troops' noses to the grindstone and the assumption is that indolence is the default state for anyone sub-CI unless they are kept under a constant lash.

03 June, 2011 14:11

Blogger Busy said...

Please be aware that the link on your side bar to Panda Tales takes you to a new blog with plagiarised work on it from my old Panda tales.
I'd urge you to delete the link,

04 June, 2011 12:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that you say "if the custody sergeant is overheard in conversation using the word 'caution' in the hearing of the solicitor for someone arrested for theft, assault or criminal damage, and later on that person is charged with one such offence, the case will be binned by our Criminal Justice Inspector as an "abuse of process". " ?

( And, forgive me, I'm not in the police so I don't know who a Criminal Justice Inspector is. )

A 19-year-old first offender of previous exemplary character whom I know was told by investigating officer, custody sergeant and solicitor that he would be getting a conditional caution for theft from where he worked, value <£100. He went ahead and made a full admission in a recorded interview. Then after four hours in the cells was told they were charging him and sending it to magistrates court anyway.

20 June, 2011 17:30

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Last Anon- if someone is promised a caution on the basis that they admit the offence, and they are then charged, that is an abuse of process. Apart from the fact that it's a good way to get a false confession, it's considered (and is) unfair. However, the wording is important: if they say "you are eligible for a caution, but a caution can only be administered following an admission", then that wouldn't necessarily be seen as unfair.

21 June, 2011 18:11

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Not sure I understand the distinction, but anyway I have since found out that his solicitors went ballistic when they found out what had happened and have indeed lodged an 'abuse of process' claim. So we'll see. Thanks for your blog, by the way; it's good to hear it 'the way it is'.

23 June, 2011 14:38


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