This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but 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 pay my salary.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dropped. Penny. No?

April 2011: "Kettling" ruled unlawful.

May 2011: PC Simon Harwood charged with manslaughter over the death of Ian Tomlinson.

August 2011: Nationwide surprise that the police were loath to use full-on confrontational riot tactics in dealing with mass public disorder.

Perhaps something good will come of all this after all, but it's a shame so many people had to lose their homes and their livelihoods to demonstrate to the country just what the police are facing.
 


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31 Comments:

Blogger Druid Shift Skipper said...

... although I think I would have cited PS Delroy Smellie myself.

Anyway, I look forward with bated breath to receiving sensible guidance on public order tactics from Imelda and her minions in the near future. As someone posted on Gadget earlier "she's tough on Law and Order, and tough on the causes of Law and Order" LOL.

11 August, 2011 21:45

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an American all I know is what I heard on the radio, read in the newspaper and your blog. Why aren’t you screaming at your press. I have not heard one reference to weak judges, slap on the wrist sentences. Your PM’s comment There will be consequences is ludicrous.

11 August, 2011 21:47

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering...
If the government were to implement something less PC - for instance birching/caning, which is still used in the developed countries like Singapore...
Would there be further riots over this? Or would the riots be quelled?

11 August, 2011 21:50

 
Blogger Joker said...

Ohmygod, you cannot be serious?

11 August, 2011 22:15

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Joker:
Why can't I be serious?
Birching/caning
- does not result in hospitalization (while > 100 police officers were hospitalized)
- would deter looters, who state that they loot because the govt can't control them
- is very economical since there is no more space in jail
- is what Britain did less than 100 years ago

11 August, 2011 23:23

 
Blogger Lex Ferenda said...

I don't think Harwood and kettling were on the mind of senior officers when they told officers to stand their line rather than go in.
I think the decision making was more around worrying about escalating the problem (sounds ludicrous but true) and the terror of another Keith Blakelock.
Going in and battering the largly black gangs initially involved must have been an awful dilema for any senior officer thinking about their future career prospects.

12 August, 2011 00:28

 
Blogger Joker said...

My comment was directed at the OP. If I was addressing it to someone who either lacks the wherewithal or the inclination to sort out a proper username, I would specify.

What can't possibly have been intended as a serious argument is a comparison made between how the public expect the police to handle demonstraters, and how the public expect the police to handle rioters. The two are not easily confused. One lot march with placards, the other can be seen breaking into shops, which generally rings alarm bells, often literally.

Now, you could argue that there is a new breed of protester, the 'anti-capitalist', that regards vandalism and theft as legitimate tactics against the state. I'd still have to be boringly bleeding heart liberal and suggest that they learned this from observing what the police regard as legitimate crowd control tactics, i.e., beating down women with their truncheons.

But the cherry on top is the invocation of Simon Harwood's name, as if dragging him to accountability could ever be something we would regret. Is the police force so much better an organisation when a man already kicked out for his violent behaviour gets a second chance to kill somebody?

And I doubt that there was 'nationwide surprise' that the police were reluctant to use 'confrontational' tactics when it was that kind of attitude that started the trouble in the first place...

12 August, 2011 00:29

 
Blogger Kimpatsu said...

So you really think that kettling children at a peaceful demo is the same as charging rioters?
So you really do believe that wearing a blue uniform puts you above the law when you strike an innocent man without provocation?
Can you really not tell the difference between these scenarios? Or are you just agitating for more powers with less oversight, as the police wanted in California?
If you really can't tell the difference, you are in the wrong job. But I suppose you could always get a job on a tabloid rag explaining how assaulting the innocent is fine provided you wear a blue uniform and your victim is not a Daily Mail reader.

12 August, 2011 02:07

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kimpatsu, Tomlinson was far from innocent. He'd been obstructive all day. That he died is tragic but blame does not lie with Police. Please try not to be so hoodwinked by the media.

12 August, 2011 10:37

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, after reading the last few comments. You want the Police to be tough on 11 -20 year olds who are throwing stones, breaking windows, setting fires and throwing petrol bombs this week.

But you did not want them to be tough with the 15-20 year olds doing a few months ago in the student protests? (Yes they did everything list above in both.)

You honestly wonder why the police are confused. (A MOP)

12 August, 2011 10:40

 
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Cameron said in Parliament that "he will support all those officers doing the right thing". But what is the "right thing"?. What appears right at the time may turn out to be wrong in hindsight, and to me this is the essence of the Tomlinson case.
As a pilot friend of mine says, "You can have a problem with your aircraft and have a couple of seconds to take action. The chances are, if you survive, a committee of enquiry will interview numerous experts, carry out tests on a simulator and then after six months or so, decide that you should have done something different".
It seems to be that this is the problem that individual police officers are up against, none of the "experts" have ever been on a police line themselves, but are only too happy to tell the police what they should have done. So I will avoid the temptation except to say that I don't think the head of APCO lives in the same world as the rest of us.

12 August, 2011 13:54

 
Anonymous Woodentop363 said...

Just wanted to share this little bit of mirth for my fellow boys and girls in blue.

Epic riot umbrella FAIL!!!
http://bit.ly/pOXM2L

12 August, 2011 18:00

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE LOOTERS PRAYER: Our father, who art in prison,
even my mum knows not his name, thy Chavdom come,
you'll read it in The Sun,
in Birmingham much as it is in London,
give us this day our welfare bread & forgive us our ASBO's,
as we happy slap those who use our ASBO's against us,
lead us not to employment but deliver us free housing,
for thine is the Chavdom,
the Burberry & the Bacardi, forever and ever...Innit

12 August, 2011 20:15

 
Anonymous ginnersinner said...

English Pensioner is right - if Cops have two seconds to decide, so should the inquiry.

12 August, 2011 21:06

 
Blogger The TEFL Tradesman said...

PCB, you are a complete twat. If you cannot see the difference between dealing with a middle-aged drunkard who had been gobby to a couple of coppers (and was walking away from them) and a street full of young rioting and looting youths, you have seriously lost the plot.

Yeh, right - kill the solitary drunk and let the black kids run riot. That's the way to go!

12 August, 2011 22:19

 
Blogger Joker said...

As it turns out, ginnersinner, it looks like someone at the IPCC, who had a lot more than two seconds to make the decision, told the press Duggan fired at the police.

Now, maybe I would say this, wouldn't I, but perhaps a big part of the problem is the IPCC, who's job should be to investigate the police impartially, being a little too eager to tidy up their messes?

The Press Complaints Commission have a similar problem...

14 August, 2011 02:12

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Of course the scenarios are different, but senior officers are afraid that the pictures will look the same. And kettling is actually a tactic used when demonstrators become violent or elements of the crowd are becoming violent, it's not meant for totally peaceful protests (though peaceful individuals get caught up in it).

14 August, 2011 09:04

 
Anonymous David Mop said...

I have some sympathy for police officers worried about the implications of the Tomlinson case.

However what goes around comes around.

How much sympathy did the police show to Tony Martin when he killed a career criminal in rather more threatening circumstances than those faced by PC Harwood?

14 August, 2011 13:07

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David

Tony Martin shot a Burglar in the back. Yes it was in his own home and many reasonable people would agree with it. However, the law says that you can use reasonable force to protect yourself and others. At the moment he fired the gun, Tony Martin's life was not in danger - as the burgular was running away.

I suspect the police had a lot of sympathy for Mr Martin, but in the circumstances, their job was collect the facts and let the courts decide.

You and I may not agree with the outcome, but the police only present the facts to a court and the court decide if the actions are lawful or not. If people don't like the law, they should write to their MP.

14 August, 2011 15:48

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pc bloggs
you didnt quite answer my question.
Nor did you publish it.
Will you comment on the post by Joker, 12th Aug 00.29 with reguards to Harwood.
There seems to be a huge difference between rampaging greedy, ferel thugs and an annoying old soak with his hands in his pockets.
Im sure the public would like to see huge differences in the way each are treated too.

Isnt that basically what we all want? A police that knows when to be hard and who to be hard on?
What do YOU think of harwood?
kind regards and sympathies to all those caught up in the riots.
jk

14 August, 2011 17:42

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jk (amongst others)

Most cops haven't taken the forensic interest in the Tomlinson case that many internet posters have from the comfort of their armchairs. (And for those of us that have - it's still not been decided in a court of law whether his actions were lawful or not).

After all - why should they, they work in neighbourhood or response and are not routinely expected (or even have any interest) in policing large scale disorder.

Whilst to the outside (and interested) observer the situation involving Tomlinson was very different to the riots that took over the UK, the reality to a cop on the street is very similar.

They are in a line in a street faced with a bunch of people throwing bricks at them and smashing stuff up.

They have no idea what might be occurring around the corner, on other streets and certainly not in the OPS room.

Their picture of events won't be globally provided by numerous bits of mobile phone footage and downloaded CCTV, it will be provided by two eyes trying to peer through a steamed up visor.

They get told to clear a street, and they have running through the back of their minds the thought that they saw Harwood push someone over on TV and he's is now on trial for manslaughter.

It is very easy to sit on an armchair and decree that on such and such an occasion the police should be hard and yet in a "different" sort of riot they should not.

Tang0

14 August, 2011 23:16

 
Blogger Joker said...

Most of us use swivel chairs, Tang0. Don't you?

I've probably already mentioned the time I went to a Mission concert in Finsbury Park and afterwards, as people were leaving, started to cross a road because my car was two blocks in that direction. A policeman, who seemed to me at the time to be doing nothing but monitoring this steadily moving mass of people, actually grabbed me and manhandled me back to the pavement. I'm a slow learner. Today, I would have asked him why he was restricting my movement and gotten his number.

But he wasn't facing rioters. He was employing physical force against someone for crossing a road, for Cliff's sake, and I have no doubt he's not the only police officer with this mindset. You may recall a documentary from a few years back where an infiltrator revealed that some police recruits are pretty keen to practise violence. Constable Savage is apparently alive and well.

So yes, we may not know the intimate details of frontline policing, but that doesn't mean we aren't willing to learn. It certainly doesn't mean that our own experiences don't provide some kind of meaningful insight. And any officer should be at least as concerned about invoking Harwood's name in defence of anything as they are about how kettling people engaged in violent behaviour, with not a sniff of a demonstration, might look.

15 August, 2011 04:25

 
Blogger Joker said...

And to be absolutely clear, kettling for violent mobs, when there is almost zero chance of innocent passers-by being caught up in it, is not something I have a problem with, and I would sign a petition to that effect. Water cannon and rubber bullets, we might have to argue about.

15 August, 2011 04:30

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So in response to my description of what it actually feels like to be involved in a riot policing situation, an explanation of perhaps why the G20 and the recent riots don't actually feel that different to a cop on the front line in the middle of it, and thus why the effect of Tomlinson/ Harwood might have some impact on front line policing your response boils down to :-

"I was once pushed back on the pavement by a cop" (and whilst I wasn't there I can think of a number of perfectly lawful reasons for doing that)

"I can vaguely remember a documentary where the cops were being nasty - it must have been violence" (Actually it was disgusting racism in police RECRUITS, during training college, exploited by a reporter who used a level of Agent Provocateurism that would never be allowed in court, and who were quite rightly sacked. And should never have been allowed in the job in the first place. Offensive idiots who talked big but not thugs.)

And finally - you will happily give us permission to "kettle" violent rioters if "there is almost zero chance of innocent passers-by being caught up"
I can't think of a less appropriate method of controlling violent hooligans than containment, unless you are happy to pay for the hospital treatment the cops will require. In addition I am still looking for the level of telepathy that enable me to distinguish one person who has put a brick down from another who never had a brick in the first place.


If you are "willing to learn" as you suggest then perhaps you could actually make a sensible comment on my original post - even if it's just to say that you disagree with my portrayal of what it feels like and what you are aware of in a riot.

Tang0

15 August, 2011 19:47

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, penny dropped. It dropped quite some time ago, for me and for quite a few in the police and government. Those who have been aware of what's been wrong have been plodding on doing their best to influence a transformation for a while.

It takes a crisis before the majority wake up and see the big "problems".
In recent years it was the Labour government who made a right mess of things. Then incidents of police being rough with people on demonstrations, and the bad press that followed. Then the greedy politicians and the bankers, all highlighted by the press/media.

At the same time the press and politicians had their own campaign, to hound people on benefits, giving ALL OF THEM a bad name and stiring up public animosity towards the disabled, single parents and the unemployed, when it is a minority who abuse the system.

The people at the bottom of the pile, those who struggle with the least, found themselves to be the object of public scorn, hatred and contempt, just because they exist.
Some of them may not be very well educated, but they are not that stupid. The "scorned" are contending with a lot in their less than privileged lives. Nobody's life is perfect, nor easy, not a copper's life and not the lives of the poor and those on benefits.

The blatant greed of the politicians over their expenses, the greedy bankers who created the financial crisis in the UK and around the world, made EVERYONE feel very angry about the "fat cats".

Teenagers are not unaware of those issues. They see the selfishness and greed of those who have power and live in luxury, whilst everyone else has to suffer "austerity". They saw that most of the politicians and the bankers didn't suffer any real punishment or consequences for their bad behaviour. They see the poor as being treated harshly and punished for the lack of jobs.

When the rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer, and are treated with contempt by the rest of society....it will cause trouble.

Many people have been asking WHY? What is at the root cause of the anger and violence of the mainly young people who rioted. Lack of parental responsibility has been mooted in a "blame the parents" explanation by some.

Parents have had their hands tied as much as the police and teachers have for the past 25 years. Parents have been lectured by government employees and others, that they must not smack their kids, or in recent years even shout at them, as that is considered to be "abuse". Some have been prosecuted and some have had kids taken from them by the state. Many parents have been too frightened to get tough with out of control kids, when grounding, talking and other mild "discipline" has not worked.
Years ago kids were made aware (rights) that no adult can smack them for bad behaviour, without social services coming down hard on the parents for doing that.

Government policy has created the problems society now faces. Some kids do need a firm hand, and as a last resort, a slap to bring them into line. Many kids are no trouble and will comply with parental rules and requests, but some don't. Teenagers are strongly influenced by their peer group, and too big for a slap.

It has been stated that many of the rioters were angry, so they took it out on their communities.
Not the way to go, but they certainly got everyone's attention.
How many of those angry kids, "fast tracked" through the courts, have suffered some sort of sexual or other serious abuse in their lives, that has not been properly dealt with by adults with a responsibility for child protection? Have some of them been "silenced" by the fast tracking courts/punishments?

The riots were an awful lot of anger vented by many.....

All in all, the root cause of what happened is a malign influence that is at work in this country.
It's the Elephant in the room and its' dung has generally been swept under the carpet by government and the system.

16 August, 2011 02:05

 
Blogger Bent Society said...

To save money and promote a ‘crime as opportunity’ paradigm changing agenda, 27 years ago the British Home Office deliberately cooked up a junk science myth to facilitate arguments against calls for more police officers. This led to the gradual withdrawal of officers from our streets. The myth is still being used today. I attach a link to a British Government e-petition that contains a link to the myth busting article by Dr Mike Sutton and calls for a funded evaluation of traditional random assignment, non-directed foot patrol: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/11736

16 August, 2011 08:56

 
Blogger Joker said...

So let's put it this way, 'Tang0'... Do you think I'm exaggerating? Because I've got 0 reason to put any faith in your snide attempt at belittlement. Perhaps you can put your finger on that 'perfectly lawful reason'? Oh, that's right. You weren't there, but baseless assumptions are right up your street...

16 August, 2011 23:23

 
Blogger Joker said...

'"I can vaguely remember a documentary where the cops were being nasty - it must have been violence" (Actually it was disgusting racism in police RECRUITS...'

And did you fail to notice that I *did* say 'recruits'? You'd have to be pretty stupid to think you could misrepresent my words when they're right up there for all to see..

16 August, 2011 23:27

 
Blogger Joker said...

There's also one rather disturbing thought that arises from Blogg's entry, that police may have 'hesitated' to act against criminals precisely to emphasise their chagrin about criticism for previous behaviour. But no-one could possibly be that petty, surely? Not when it led to people dying...

17 August, 2011 00:19

 
Blogger StumpedMolar said...

Literally cannot believe you're posting about Harwood again.

I thought you'd let this one drop after your last post on the subject... The one where you went off on one and concluded the charge decision was in some way improper seemingly without considering why it had been reached.

18 August, 2011 10:37

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lawful reason number 1 - obstructing the road. Typically seen when large numbers of people exit a venue after a concert. At it's worst a cause of serious/fatal RTC's, particularly if members of the crowd are intoxicated.

Fair enough you did say recruits. It can't be overemphasised that this appalling behaviour occurred in idiots that were police officers in name only.
Regardless of his best efforts the "secret policeman" struggled to find any racism when he actually emerged from training school and into the real police service.

You also suggest that police have "hesitated" due to "chagrin about criticism".
If you mean they were mentally uneasy about exactly what level of force they were permitted to use - then you have it pretty much spot on.
It meant you had baton charges to clear streets where no-one actually got batoned.
It did not mean that they stood by watching people get killed. That is just arrant nonsense.

Tang0

18 August, 2011 22:28

 

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