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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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

You must never go down to the end of the town

Without wishing to sound irresponsible, and without the vaguest intention of undermining public confidence, town centres in Britain are scary places. Whilst you can be robbed, burgled, raped or beaten just about anywhere, it's a lot more likely in an area with a buzzing night-time economy.  

Going further, certain offences occur almost exclusively in town, for example:
  • Commercial armed robbery (eg banks/jewellery shops)
  • Bottling (if you don't know this term, it's what it sounds like)
  • Shoplifting
A good number of rapes can also be traced back to town centres - both date and stranger, not so much the domestic/child abuse type.  Not only is it then possible to wind back the tapes to view CCTV of the offenders for use in identifying them, but the CCTV operators tend to work 24/7 and spend the day and night scanning the town for crimes in action.  This means if you are mugged, your car broken into, your shop robbed, or you are followed by a stranger, there is a high chance that the cameras have captured you and/or the suspects at some stage in the proceedings.

All of which is why the public should feel somewhat uncomfortable to hear that towns all over the country are turning off their CCTV cameras to save money.  Publicised cases include Penrith, eleven towns in Cornwall, and are looming in the Forest of Dean and Devizes.  

But this week it happened in a town just over the border from Blandmore, and the news doesn't appear in any local paper or online.  Just like that, with no warning, CCTV cameras are off.

How many other councils have cut the funding for this vital crime-fighting tool, without any publicity, debate or warning?  And who will pick up the shortfall, when it is decided that we really can't do without Big Brother after all?

One guess.

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


Anonymous crowlord said...

Thanks ellie, this is the first positive view I have heard of my "profession" (lol) I think I have read for a long time.

Its nice to know that in somebody somewhere appreciates the time we spend in our little cells when most people are tucked up or smashed out!

02 August, 2011 20:40

Blogger Westengland said...

I am surprised that, in researching this item on local newspaper sites, you have missed the number of police stations being closed around the country - I suggest you look at the Forest of Dean division of Gloucestershire Constabulary as an example: in my home town, Newent, within that division, the police have , bluntly, walked away to Cinderford (several miles away as the crow flies, much more in reality because of the lie of the land).

Commenting on this the mayor was quoted as saying "we've been stitched up" - there had been a "Public Consultation" meeting with the area's Supt and Police Authority representative that spieled the spiel even as the "tactical withdrawl" was being planned.

The only daily "police" presence in Newent (pop: 5,000+) now are the four CPSOs (aka "The Swedey"), who finish their "duties" at 22:00 - of course, at that time of night, potential naughty boys and girls are at home about to have an early night as we all know...

Newent's CCTV is currently under review - I guess that the money for it will be found (and taken from other public needs); meanwhile actual *police*-ing, in the original meaning of the word will continue to decline.

03 August, 2011 03:17

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If CCTV cameras do actually help to reduce crime and catch those who are daft enough to commit crimes under the nose of CCTV, then WHY on earth are they being switched off? Surely public safety has to be a priority for both local councils and police?

This doesn't make any sense, but then the government cuts to ALL the armed forces will undermine them too, which just goes to highlight the fact that there are incompetent politicians in power who are making BIG MISTAKES and placing the security of the people of this country IN DANGER.

It's as if some of the politicians are suffering from an undetected form of madness, or are under an evil spell of some sort.

God help us all, please, and save us from the lunatics in power, who are leading the country down a wrong and very dangerous road to chaos and untold future troubles.

The people do not deserve this betrayal by arrogant politicians.

03 August, 2011 06:01

Anonymous Duncan said...

I can't find a great deal of hard statistics on how much cameras do actually help... I know the twice my car has been broken into I wasn't allowed to get a the tapes for 'data protection' reasons.

I can find plenty of newspaper articles (never the most reliable source of info) on cameras having no effect at all, being too low quality to be used as evidence in court etc etc. There's even a story that claims 4.3 million was spend on london cameras for every crime that was successfully prosecuted using CCTV evidence.

With the later kind of stories floating round, it seems like an entirely reasonable decision. Cameras might be in the same place as the muggers, but if they don't stop me getting mugged, or at least catch the buggers afterwards, then they are no use.

Anybody care to offer a counterpoint?

03 August, 2011 12:44

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

Cameras are all very well at finding offenders after the event (unless they are hoodied up, of course) but the only way to prevent muggings, assaults etc happening in the first place would be more visible police in town/city centres.

03 August, 2011 13:30

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But this is nonsense and we know it's nonsense. CCTV does not deter crime and it is not much use for catching them after the fact in relation to the resource poured into them.

Duncan - the data protection thing is utter rubbish. Photography in a public place does not come close to being under the remit of the DPA. Sue a John Doe and get a court order if they won't play.

03 August, 2011 15:42

Anonymous Long Time Gone said...

CCTV does not in itself prevent crime and rarely gives images of evidential quality in regard to the ID of suspects.
However it often provides useful evidence, both positive and negative where minor altercations become serious crimes. Any detective on a serious crime/murder squad would be able to give numerous occasions where lines of enquiry have been opened or discontinued as a result of CCTV footage obtained, not necessarily at the scene of the crime. Seizing CCTV footage is usually one of the first considerations of a Senior Investigating Officer. Whilst it can save a considerable of time and money on individual investigations, it may not be worth the cost overall. However try telling a relative of a murder victim this and they will almost certainly disagree. I personally know of tens of murder convictions which would never have been made without CCTV intelligence/evidence

03 August, 2011 17:15

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Ruraltown, the local CPS will hardly dare to prosecute anything without CCTV tapes of the offence 'in action'.

What on earth will they do now?

03 August, 2011 23:10

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much crime was there before CCTVs?

04 August, 2011 07:53

Blogger Kimpatsu said...

If CCTV is a vital crime-fighting tool, how come it does not decrease crime? All that happens is that the nosy snoops and salacious gossip-mongers called CCTV operators watch a crime occurring from the safety of their control centre, and maybe the police will show up some time before the end of the century. Meanwhile, CCTV operators continue to use their cameras to snoop on innocent people for the fun of it. (Remember Penn & Teller's little experiment?) All CCTV in public areas should be turned OFF, and more uniformed police put out and about on the beat. But stop stealing my civil liberties, would you?

04 August, 2011 08:28

Anonymous sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

04 August, 2011 15:14

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wuth respect Kimpatsu, you are talking nonsense.
I have personally been involved in investigating a huge number of serious assaults and rapes which have been resolved either exclusively through CCTV evidence, or where CCTV has played a crucial role.
Whilst more officerw would always be good, in my area our CCTV operators frequently direct resources to serious offences and would do more often if there were any more resources.


04 August, 2011 23:02

Anonymous Rich said...

Apparently, CCTV does work but mostly in car parks and mostly for car crime. Information here:

The evidence seems to be based on broad crime statistics and so may not capture the experience of serving officers detailed in the comments.

05 August, 2011 17:05

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mantra (repeated her) and used eternally by the BBC and guardian types is that CCTV doesnt work. well I confess its not good at preventing crime but for detection its proved its worth thousands of times. Many murders have been committed under its gaze and the offender tracked round the town and arrested (still wearing all that bllod spattered clothes he was wearing in the CCTV footage) or just arrested at the scene and from a confusing mob situation ; who stabbed/bottle/kicked who with what becomes clear and a jury can decide guilt as they have just seen it happen in court on TV . The crossbow killer in west yorkshire killled one victim on CCTV and would not have been caught so early and probably without killing again had he not been seen doing it. CCTV helps catch and convict criminals many of them horrible nasty pieces of work who without CCTV would still be out and about doing it still , and are now in prison ( which also 'doesnt work' but funny how you cant murder/rob/stab/shoot/bottle/rape any more people when you are inside ...... )

Just repeating CCTV doesnt work is like saying that jumbo jets are useless for shopping around town and school runs whilst failing to acknowledge that they are pretty good at flying round the world.

07 August, 2011 06:39

Anonymous Bagpuss said...

Long Time Gone - that's an interesting perpective. I, too had heard that CCTV was often of too poor quality to be useful.

I'm still ambivalent about having so many CCTV cameras - I'm not sure I want to be under such constant surveillance, even for my own good, but certainly any debate about whether or not to turn off the cameras should be on the basis that those makign the decisionshave accurate information about how, and how effectively, the cameras are used.

08 August, 2011 15:23

Anonymous how to become a police officer said...

The police's hesitancy in putting up a confrontational stance towards the protesters may be because of the their fear that they will kill a protester if they apply force.

13 September, 2011 06:08

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding CCTV, when the police say 'nothing was caught on CCTV' they mean they didn't look. Unless somebody in a control room happens to see an incident on CCTV don't expect the police to plough through footage.

18 December, 2011 15:11


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