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, June 30, 2011

Mad McCombe McMad

When Liberty is on the same side of the argument as the police, you know the judge has got it wrong.

The after-shocks of the McCombe Madness are continuing in Blandshire.  Every day further instructions are being emailed forth to try and explain what action we should now take in relation to the hundreds of people on police bail pending further investigation.  Now it appears that emergency legislation will be introduced before there is time to appeal Justice McCombe's lunatic decision on bail.  Which only goes to show that my advice to my officers has been sound: bail everyone for at least six weeks because within that time the decision will have been overturned and we can carry on as normal.

This story has been covered in the mainstream media, but it's unlikely that the wider public really understand the problem unless they take the time to read up on the law.  If a High Court judge, conversant in criminal law and the workings of the police, has no idea how an investigation works, how can the public?

But regardless of that, if you asked any right-thinking passer-by whether the 24-hour detention limit should apply only to the time actually spent detained, most of them would think it was a given.

Mr Justice McCombe, alone in a room on a bright May morning, felt differently.  And as a result of one man's moment of madness, police forces in England and Wales have been plunged into chaos.  If that isn't an argument to look closely at the Criminal Justice System, I don't know what is.

"Today, I plan to spend the morning making mincemeat of twenty-seven years of policing.  Then I might have a cup of tea."

Of course, there's one man in the middle of this storm who has not been named and shamed as far as I can find, who actually set the whole thing in motion: the clerk of the Manchester Magistrates Court that heard the case in the first place.  Somebody take that man outside and shake him.

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


Anonymous Betty Swollox said...

I'm not too sure who is more confused, the judge or all my senior officers running around completely clueless. Three flipping emails from three different Supts I recieved in just as many minutes today pretty much contradicting themselves. I love it all - they are all flapping. One of them even managed to get the word "community" in every sentence.

30 June, 2011 19:39

Anonymous Northern DC said...

Good post Bloggsy, it will all sort itself out. I believe it was a District Judge rather than a clerk though.

30 June, 2011 22:18

Blogger Kimpatsu said...

When Liberty is on the same side of the argument as the police, you know the judge has got it wrong.
More accurately, the police have got it right for the first time. Will wonders never cease?
If a High Court judge, conversant in criminal law and the workings of the police, has no idea how an investigation works, how can the public?
Investigations or fishing expeditions?
Actually, I think the judge has a good point. The police should not arrest someone unless they have sufficient evidence to charge from the outset. Otherwise this becomes merely detention without trial, and that is unacceptable.

01 July, 2011 00:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post Bloggsy....Yes, it is a good argument for taking a long hard look at the Mad Hatters tea party which is the Criminal Justice System......and the manner in which victims are treated by the system.....and the fact that the police are often undermined in their efforts to protect the public from violent thugs.

It is often said that every cloud has a silver lining.

01 July, 2011 01:53

Blogger GaryHaranDoyle said...

I'd be interested to know how it is done in the rest of Europe. It'll all be done the same way pretty soon so whats the practice in Munich or Paris or Barcelona?

Our European friends have generally always been more concerned with civil rights than we have, so what's their interpretation?

01 July, 2011 07:51

Anonymous Osrik said...

Jet another post heaping criticism on the judge without considering one important point. A judge's duty is to intepret the law as it was written. if the law allowed this interpretation them maybe your criticism should be directed at the law and those who drafted it, rather than the judge who interpreted it.

01 July, 2011 08:31

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The police should not arrest someone unless they have sufficient evidence to charge from the"

That is nonsense.
Take the simplest shoplifter.
Detained by store staff, police arrive and arrest.
Prior to interview we need statements and CCTV.
Prior to charge we need his explanation.

Do you have a suggestion how this can be achieved without detaining someone using your powers of arrest?

Bear in mind we often dispose of these by means of a fixed penalty or report for summons - both of which disposals lead to lots of hand wringing about denying them the right to legal advice or "acting as judge and jury".

And that's only a shoplifter...


01 July, 2011 08:44

Anonymous Cabbage said...

Tang0 - don't mind kimpatsu. He's a regular anti-police, anti-CJS poster in these parts. Just be glad he didn't bring up how the police routinely murder drunks who are on their way back from buying a newspaper, and bear in mind that under no circumstances should you ever mention self defence law, or he'll write you an essay on the subject, if not more. And it won't make sense.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I am a mere civilian trying to understand this stuff, but if McCombe's ruling only applies to EXTENSIONS on the 24-hour limit, would that be reasonable? To ignorant me it seems like it would. To get an extension you must've already chosen to keep the suspect detained for the entire 24 hours rather than bailing them pending further enquiries. I would presume that you would only do this if they were either a flight risk or someone dangerous who might immediately reoffend and needs to be kept detained for public safety. That being the case, I'm not sure I can imagine a situation in which it would be appropriate to bail someone after getting an extension.

Can anyone suggest such a case?

Finally, I have read in other parts of the internet, but cannot confirm, that the exact wording of the extension gramted in this case was

"You, the constables of Greater Manchester Police Force, are hereby authorised to keep the above named defendant in police detention for 36 hours from the time of issue of this warrant."

which is a wording that clearly doesn't allow for the defendant to be bailed to freeze the 36 hour clock.

So is it possible this is just a case of people misunderstanding McCombe's decision and taking it to apply to all extensions ever when in fact it says nothing about other extensions and was simply necessary in this particular case because of the peculiar wording of the warrant?

01 July, 2011 09:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police in Scotland don't having police bail but still manage in investigate crime.

01 July, 2011 19:52

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Cabbage, that's how people started out interpreting it, but it's pretty clear McCombe meant it to apply to all prisoners, pre- or post-extension.

I can think of lots of examples where you might bail after 24hrs but still require the extension - you might do so with a murder, for example, pending forensic evidence being rushed through the lab, but following its analysis the suspect still makes no comment in interview and so you then bail for more in-depth forensics or cctv/witness enquiries. On the suspect's return, you want to put the result of those enquiries to him. It's not "fresh evidence" warranting a fresh arrest, so you continue under the old bail clock.

Osrik, if you read PACE, it's hard to see how the law allowed for this interpretation. PACE even talks about time previously spent in custody counting towards the next period of detention on answering bail. Under the current British legal system, a judge can pretty much do as they please.

01 July, 2011 22:25

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of it like this:

A&E are no longer allowed to triage patients who come in.

Everyone has to be treated immediately. Minor injuries cannot be asked to wait while major injuries are treated.

Now apply that to a Saturday night in any major hospital and imagine what would happen.

02 July, 2011 09:49

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and add to that: A&E doctors are not allowed to wait for test results or X Rays, they have to make a treatment decision without having time to look at the results.

02 July, 2011 09:51

Blogger TonyF said...

'Oh, and add to that: A&E doctors are not allowed to wait for test results or X Rays, they have to make a treatment decision without having time to look at the results.'

The blind fixing the broken?

02 July, 2011 19:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggsy said...."Under the current British legal system, a judge can pretty much do as they please."

Very true. Despite the FACTS having been brought out by ITV investigations into what happened prior to the terror attacks in London on July 7th 2005, come the Inquest the security services sort of re wrote history, and deceived the judge. OR she allowed herself to be deceived by people who did not want to admit that they made a mistake. The judge it appears, knowingly condoned shameful backside covering by West Yorkshire police, the Met and MI5, apparently.

She concluded that the emergency and security services "could not have known nor have prevented the attacks on the 7th July 2005". That is not 100% true. That is a whitewash and a cover up.

An ITV investigation revealed via interview with a former Met Officer, who had been in charge of counter terrorism, that MI5 HAD informed the Met about a number of NAMED suspects, some of whom were living in Yorkshire. It was reported that the Met asked West Yorkshire police to keep them under close surveillance, as they were named suspected terrorists.

West Yorks top brass were not on the ball regarding the surveillance, and did not notice that some of the suspects had left their area and were heading for London, which meant that the Met were also unaware that the suspects were heading their way on the 7th July 2005.

MI5 didn't have the staff at the time to be on the tail of the suspects either, and also didn't know that they were heading for London on the foretold date of the bombings. Records made in 1957, by codename Lawrence - Operation Beelzebub.

What the Met and MI5 DID know, (although they had been a bit cynical about the information they already had in their Intelligence records) was that the attacks on London were foretold, by God given Divine Intelligence....that named the terrorists and the date of the attacks. After the attack on Madrid, the security services KNEW that London would be hit shortly. Tony Blair was on the TV news, sweating and looking worried before it happened, stating that they were expecting an attack. It was also foretold that the terrorists would get through on the 7the July 2005....because the Intelligence in the records was not taken seriously enough, and because the security services were not properly organised.

It was also reported on ITV a few years ago, that MI5 blamed their own and the Met's disorganisation,plus underfunding and staff shortages within MI5, for their inability to prevent the terror attacks.

The finger was pointed at Gordon Brown, who held the purse strings at the time. Whilst in power he did appear to be rather arrogant and dismissive of other Intelligence warnings in the records, and just ignored the serious warnings of foretold great danger in the future, to the public from the government's plans to continue with nuclear reactor power stations, and nuke weapons.

The Tories appear to be making the same DANGEROUS MISTAKE.

I wonder if there is a sane, wise and fair judge in this country, who might be prepared to make a ruling "in defence of the realm"?....and stop the lethal mistake of new nuclear reactor power stations being built here.

Germany and Italy have made the right decision to stop using nuclear. Gordon Brown sold the UK interest in nuclear energy to the they don't care either if nuclear power is a huge mistake. They just want to make money out of the deal.

The security and defence review identified nuclear power stations as being CERTAIN FUTURE TARGETS for terrorists.... But the government do not care one jot about that.
Is that not negligence and a failure in their duty of care towards the UK population and our national security?

04 July, 2011 01:38

Anonymous Mac said...


Do you have that rant saved somewhere so you can cut and paste it onto any blog anywhere ad infinitum even if it's got nothing to do with the current post?

04 July, 2011 14:15

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current post Mac, is about judges and their decisions, which can often have unfortunate consequences for the public, and also for the police when their job is made more difficult.

Quite why you have a problem Mac, with some harsh truth being revealed on Bloggsy's website, does raise an eyebrow as well as a question or two about you.

Police swear an oath to do their duty, without fear or favour, and if that means telling the truth and exposing lies that can have dangerous consequences for a great number of people, MoP and police officers alike....then so be it.

I cannot be accused of failing in MY duty.

05 July, 2011 02:12

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac i'm sure i saw that same post on a fashion blog! Hehe

05 July, 2011 19:13

Anonymous JonP said...

"if you asked any right-thinking passer-by whether the 24-hour detention limit should apply only to the time actually spent detained, most of them would think it was a given."

heh, if you'd asked me i wouldn't have known! I thought it was a fixed start/end time from when they were arrested - but then i've never really given it much thougth...

Is there a limit on how long you can bail someone for?

And just out of curiosity, is this how the 14 day thing applies to terrorist suspects?

05 July, 2011 19:23

Blogger Nationalist said...

I have to admit I think 24hrs detention should mean 24hrs from time of arrest. I don't think it should mean you can debail a suspect 24 times on 24 different days and detain them for 1 hour each time. That would be very burdensome on the suspect: 24 bus fares to get to the nick, 24 days off work etc.

I'd be inclined to reduce the detention time quite a bit, eg to 4hrs, but treat "results back from the lab" and the like as new evidence which zeroes the clock.

14 July, 2011 14:22


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