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, January 26, 2012

The Elusive Bobby on the Beat

Why is it you never hear MPs extolling the virtues of "doctors on the wards" or "firemen in their engines"?  It is accepted that as well as being seen quickly when you turn up at hospital, and having water sprayed on your house as soon as it catches fire, other factors come into play.  For example it's helpful if the doctors that treat you are trained in the latest equipment and medical knowledge, are awake enough to perform your surgery, and can be on standby for the life-threatening emergency that might walk in behind you.  And for the fire crews to arrive with working hoses, well-oiled teamwork and an experienced chief.

But it's easy for a politician to harp on about bobbies on the beat, because of programmes over the years like Dixon of Dock Green and The Bill, that frequently show officers stumbling across live crimes every five minutes they are on the street. And the Tories have been scoring political points off the idea for the last fifteen years.

David Davis, in 2007, laid into the then Labour Government for the fact that only 14% of officers' time was being spent "on the beat".  And now Nick Herbert (Policing Minister) is using the same argument to belittle Chief Constable Tony Melville's announcement that his Gloucestershire force is "on a cliff edge".

Still fits into his old stabbie... good man.
(Although that jacket looks suspiciously clean.)

Only last week the Chair of Greater Manchester's Police Federation wrote about being "stretched beyond capacity" and being "barely able to function".

Now a Chief Constable is saying the same things.  When a Chief goes on record and sounds the death knell of his own career, you should be afraid.  The residents of Cheltenham and Stroud will be quaking in their beds tonight.  That isn't undermining public confidence, it's telling the truth.

Police Minister Nick Herbert has trotted out the old excuse that it must be the Chief's fault if the money he has isn't going far enough.  Will Tony Melville invite the Home Office in to do better?  Just what exactly would Nick Herbert cut, if he was given the same budget?

Well, Theresa May says that policing is about cutting crime, "no more, no less".  So the first thing to go would be our response to missing persons and those self-harming or threatening suicide.  No longer will we deal with traffic collisions or close roads while firemen evacuate buildings.  We'll stop sectioning people barking at their own reflection on street corners, and ignore the request from Social Services to check on three vulnerable children because the mother's threatened to knock them out if they go round again.  We won't help scared victims collect their personal belongings so they can leave their violent partner, nor make those night-time visits on behalf of a doctor or coroner, with our hats in our hands.

And that's just the stuff that doesn't relate to crime.  I can't wait for Nick Herbert to get his big red pen on Gloucestershire's criminal justice departments, to see him announce just which tape summariser, file admin support worker and witness liaison officer can be done away with, and who is going to get convictions at court without them.

But more importantly than any of the above, will he cut those back office staff whose role is simply to massage crime figures and generate slews of pie charts, reports and policies?  Will he make good on his own rhetoric, and extinguish paperwork relating to risk aversion and the fear of litigation?

My guess, is that were Nick Herbert in any Chief Constable's position, in any force in the country, not only would he find himself unable to do any of the above, he wouldn't have the guts to do what Tony Melville has done, and put his neck on the block to make it public.

When will the next member of ACPO follow suit?  And who will be first to join PC Nick Manning in front of a disciplinary panel for it?


How many Chiefs feel unable, or unwilling, to speak up?

It's all very well to harp on about the sacrosanct front-line, but before Chiefs can make the cuts in the right places, there has to be fundamental change to the infrastructure holding it all up: the Criminal Justice System, Health and Safety, and the law itself.  There's no point in telling someone to run their car with eco-fuel, if none of the filling stations around them provide it.

Of course, most Chief Constables aren't talking about any of this.  They're just piling more and more work onto fewer and fewer people, and blaming their own staff if they can't bear the load.  Come on, ACPO, let's hear a few more of you clamouring for a better deal.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cuts? Ellie you may not NEED to cut if you targetted better. This means LESS kettling of 15 year olds, less baton charging hippies in Brighton and MORE catching criminals. One crazee idea is that if YOU do not wish to adequately police us WE do it ourselves! Try breaking into my property and meet Mr Glock 17 and his dozen wee pals. Oh, you want to do a Tony Martin? Fine, bring lots of bodybags for your oppos. Stop using "front line" Henley is not Helmand. As for the last bit - YOU ARE ACPO. They are not some mysterious breed apart. What rank were they when they started? Yes, Constable. Stay warm.

26 January, 2012 20:02

Blogger jaded said...

You've hit the nail on the head there.All the time a Chief Constable gets a knighthood for services to grovelling they are hardly likely to tell the truth to their masters are they?

PS can't you block that idiot Rehill,or what-ever he is calling himself now?

26 January, 2012 22:02

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ciaran, some excellent points.

"You may not need to cut if you targetted better."

Key word being "may". We do not have 20% excess fat that can be trimmed. In the budget shuffling that is being carried out to make the cuts officer's time being wasted, fuel bills and overtime all seem to work out as a saving if a full time officer can be lost from a role or staff member made redundant. The service to the public will and is suffering.

The "crazee" idea about self policing is just that. Unless you believe that might is right and the weak and vulnerable should have no recourse to justice.

As for your Glock - there is a body of research which suggests that you are more likely to be killed by it than kill with it.


26 January, 2012 23:48

Anonymous London PC said...

Ellie , please block that c unit Ciaran. He adds nothing to any debate and there is clearly something wrong with him.


London PC

27 January, 2012 00:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was calling himself Gold Commander on Insp Gadget yesterday.

That was an excellent piece Ellie.

27 January, 2012 00:35

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent work Ellie. You've said in a few words everything which sums up whats wrong. The Fed should be shouting this out from the rooftops because ACPO clearly arn't going to.

27 January, 2012 07:25

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year i went to a number of council meetings and gave the party instructed....promising that 'frontline' would be unaffected.

I thought then that i may be being premature with assurances...i now know that i told a blatant untruth. SPIN, learned from politicians, portrayed it as a marvellous reorganisation. Efficiency and all that. Well it now looks like the same deluded nonsense as Hitlers lost divisions in the closing days of the war.

The Daily Mail were slaughtering us for everything when we were well funded, now that we are getting cut to the bone, will they continue to attack us....even though it is their 'friends' who hyave brought us to this situation?

10 years ago, our town had 6 bobbies per gradually wittled down....minimum staffing levels said it is often just me. A few years ago we had forms for 'organisational complaint'as opposed to complaints against an officer. This was when they cut local control rooms and went to central control. Might need to digout those forms because people are going to moan as if it is my fault, and it needs directing to the gaffers and politicians.

27 January, 2012 09:33

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jaded, CCs run the country. I have a letter from the FCO on the "supremacy of ACPO" in drafting legislation" hallmark of a police state. Send more time studying law and less trolling on the Indy/Guardian/Torygraph. Now to Tango. "Excess fat" and police. Unfortunate phrase as the local plod look like Michelin men. London PC, praise from Caesar. Anon 0035, I suggest you read award winning blogge "After Watt". Try not moving your lips.

27 January, 2012 11:29

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ciaran,
Perhaps people would rather read award winning blog Inspector Gadget (in at 31) or Winston Smith (in at 74 even though it has been defunct since August) rather than your "award winning" blog in at, err, 93.

I notice that you take the obvious swipe by drawing the incredibly clever analogy between "excess fat" in policing" and excess fat in policemen, without actually addressing any points raised. Maybe that's why you languish at 93.


27 January, 2012 13:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear Tango, let me pick Teddy up and put him in the pram. I deal with constant threats of imprisonment, no money, no permanent accommodation and yet still made #93. Gadget has a home grown audience of 144,000. I am read in far more countries. Winston Smith? Not on my radar screen, is that you, then? As to not answering questions I noticed plod doing that on a case akin to the Cardiff Three. Seems to be a one way street. Nobody I know who was interrogated in a "custody suite" had the luxury of not replying.

27 January, 2012 15:53

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone please ignore 'ciaran'. he gets his kicks out of writing complete tosh and waiting for a reaction.

27 January, 2012 17:50

Blogger jaded said...

After Watt is a hilarious blog.
I might leave a comment one day but it will be very lonely

27 January, 2012 18:28

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our local nick (on the edge of a notorious "swamp" estate) in Gloucs is being shut.
The officers will now have to work from the Council Offices in a town that is 20 minutes drive away. The scrotes on the local swamp must be delighted!
Most MOPs are appalled but the Chairman of the local Police Authority has trotted out the usual "reassurance" lies.
A local councillor and police authority member (who has his eye on being Police Commissioner) has offered his "community resource" as somewhere MOPs can meet officers by appointment. The whole thing stinks.

27 January, 2012 18:32

Anonymous Sean said...

Realities of policing:

When I come out of Twickenham or White Hart Lane or a Hyde Park concert there are police doing crowd control and I am grateful for this. They are protecting my safety and that of everyone else there.

Likewise working in doctor's surgeries when you need to call the police.

And that's just the stuff I know about. Not all about "30 years in the iso-cubes perp"!

27 January, 2012 22:57

Blogger Joker said...

Add to missing persons and the suicidal, youth peace projects and door-knocking exercises, El. No wonder our local bobbies are so stressed all the time. Guess we should stop asking 'But why??' so much...

I wonder if Tony Melville isn't being courageously honest, so much as facing the fact that the 'game' has changed, and the old platitudes aren't being bought by even the force's staunchest defenders? Or are these moans about funding the same old same old?

28 January, 2012 01:33

Anonymous Sean said...

Oh in Doctor's surgeries when you need to call the police it's because people are mad.

Not wicked evil people, but mad, and a threat primarily to themselves.

28 January, 2012 02:34

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A town near you........
2001: population 147000
2012: population: 182000
2001: Response shift no's: 24
2012: Response shift no's: 8
You do the math.

28 January, 2012 20:24

Anonymous ginnersinner said...

I was just thinking the other day, what would the response be to the following:-

'Hello, Police, what's your emergency?'
'I'm going to kill myself.'
'Yes, well, we're only required to cut crime, and since suicide is no longer a crime, you crack on.'


'My three-year-old son has run off and I can't find him'
'Sorry, not a crime, let us know when he's back.'


'I haven't heard from my 95-year-old granny for three days and I can't get her on the phone'
'Has she been murdered?'
'I don't think so, I'm just really worried.'
'Sorry, too busy cutting crime.'

28 January, 2012 22:31

Anonymous painauchocolat said...

Good post again Ellie. But there is certainly "fat" to be "trimmed", at least based on what I saw during my time.

And this applies to both officers and staff.

(I see Redhill's off again - it's like he thinks PCs and Sergeants get to choose who they kettle. Bless.)

29 January, 2012 18:27

Anonymous londonrivrdriver said...

Mr Rehill amuses me. He provides nothing, and in return gives out nothing but abuse!

We are on the cusp of running out of drivers, running out of units, running out of experience. We are on the cusp of something going badly wrong - a serious call going unanswered, not through laziness, not through inefficiency but through sheer lack of numbers, and I can only think it must be worse in county forces.

The public expect a good service. The public expect that when they call 999 and shout for help that they will get a response. This is one of the things that "we" as a civilisation have decided to do, have funded, and now essentially take for granted.

How long before we have to re-evaluate that!?

29 January, 2012 20:04

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

29 January, 2012 21:11

Anonymous agman said...

I agree with jaded and all his comments about Ciaran Rehill great post.

06 February, 2012 10:43

Anonymous linutop said...

thanks for this original post ;)

09 February, 2012 09:27

Anonymous Shijuro said...

Redface was on my blogg t'other day foaming at the mouth like a rabid vole...

Poor bloke he should be pited...not pilloried...

Nice article Blogsy...

12 February, 2012 09:51

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'MORE catching criminals'

But the prisons are full.

Most of the retail-rioters had been nicked before.

See what I did there?

20 February, 2012 13:47


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