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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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sense and Senselessness

How do you write a piece about "what it's like to be a female police officer", when what it's like is almost exactly like being a male police officer?  You can see my attempt here.

It's been a while since I wrote for The Telegraph, and the comments make interesting reading.  In particular two comments, one gasping in horror at how a woman could want to take on such a ghastly dangerous career.  (When she could be lunching at Harvey Nicholls or doing the school run, one assumes.)  Another suggests that women who experience unusually high levels of aggression should take up boxing.  Which only goes to show that sometimes it doesn't matter what you actually write.

Personally I think a lot of sense has been talked in the days since the Manchester murders.  Sir Hugh Orde springs to mind.  I don't agree with everything our worthy ACPO president says, but he spoke well on BBC News about why murder suspects sometimes have to be bailed, and how nigh on impossible it is to police when a society is either too frightened or too suspicious to give the authorities information about crime.

It has also reopened the debate about arming the police.  I am not a fan of arming every police officer.  But I do think we should have a lot more trained and armed firearms officers than we do.  There should be a couple of double crews for every five or so unarmed crews, so that the availability of armed officers is not a factor when making decisions about risk and operational tactics.  But if we are going to start arming everyone we will have to take a long look at our recruitment standards.  There are plenty of officers on my team who make fine investigators, or neighbourhood officers, but who I wouldn't want behind me with a gun, or in front of anyone else.  If you want to know why the majority of officers balloted by the Police Federation don't want to carry firearms, just read this story.

That said, if more offenders start laying grenade ambushes for neighbourhood officers, and the climate in this country does start to slide towards a Northern Irish style stand-off between police and society, I don't see what option we will have but to consider wide-scale arming.

In the meantime, I hope the death of these police officers provokes a more thoughtful and researched debate than the "Ooh big scary guns" versus "Kill the scum" that has presided until now.




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8 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff Wood said...


"But if we are going to start arming everyone we will have to take a long look at our recruitment standards."

I wonder if you may have the recruitment standards correct? In my time with the shooting clubs I trained a lot of people in firearms use, and very few were unsuitable.

The basic qualities required were a high sense of responsibility, physical competence, a willingness to learn, and the ability to come to recognise a firearm as a tool, not a fetish object.

My dear Bloggsy, I am certain you have all those qualities. Should anyone who lacks them actually be a police officer?

Kind Regards.

23 September, 2012 23:05

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always felt that many males, and females too, missed the real point of what the past struggle for 'equality' between the sexes was all about.

For myself and probably many other women too, equality meant NOT being regarded as a lesser being, or in any way inferior, or less deserving of fair pay, than a male.

For myself, equality did not mean that myself and all of my gender should then start to behave and act like men, who have generally been and were the protectors of women in any violent situations.

Some women may be fine with having fights with others, including with men and even enjoy the challenge of the confrontation....That is up to them, but to expect ALL women to take on a confrontational role within the police is misguided.

Strong women can be gentle and less aggressive in their dealings with others and still be equal to men, in terms of their worth and value to society as human beings.

In my humble opinion, there is something perverse about men who expect women to be exactly and equally like them, because of the so called 'equality' laws.

There is also something even more perverse about a man who shoots and kills two unarmed police women.

No police officer, male or female, should be expected to go into potentially dangerous and violent situations without the means to protect themselves on an equal footing, to reflect the society they have to face daily.

If that means more armed officers, to take on the duty of responding to a call of a burglary with suspects on the premises, then so be it. Rather that than more officers being killed in cold blood by violent criminals.

Quite how Tom Winsor and some politicians can say, in the current situation in the UK, to justify cuts in pay and pensions, that the police are not a special case; and not like the armed forces who face daily danger on our behalf, beggars belief. They should eat their words, along with a big slice of humble pie......

24 September, 2012 00:49

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Re the last comment, there was no suggestion there was a suspect on the premises, I don't believe. I think the police officers were expecting to find only the victim present.

24 September, 2012 06:13

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Telegraph article made interesting reading, but I must disagree that Nicola and Fiona died 'like men'. They died like 'Police officers', hated by the drug-ridden criminal element and unappreciated by the corrupt, self-serving politicians, yet carrying out a job that very few can, or would, do. I've been to jobs, including pub fights or public order incidents where female officers did as good as, or even, better job than some of the men and I had nothing but respect for those officers, male or female, who were willing to put themselves forward when there was a risk. They may have been women, working mainky in a man's world, but they were Police officers and they died like Police officers.
Plodnomore

24 September, 2012 11:32

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff,
I think part of the issue with training is not about how to use a weapon. The army manage to train 16 year old school leavers.

It's about the shoot/don't shoot decision, which for civil law enforcement is pretty tough.
The requirement to shoot accurately in high adrenaline and high exercise conditions.
The requirement to retain control of your firearm in the case of a fight. A difficult issue in the UK where scrotes aren't always afraid to go toe to toe. Bit of a culture change there perhaps...

Tang0

24 September, 2012 17:17

 
Anonymous Jeff Wood said...

Thanks, Tango, and I agree. However that is all a matter of monitored training, once Selection has been passed. The armed forces do not look to recruit Solomons, but to build on good basic qualities.

My point is not about whether police officers should be armed (I touched on that at Gadget's place the other day) but whether current recruitment standards are high enough: see the list of qualities I suggest.

Not my field really, and not even my country any more, though I still care, a lot. All the same, a fair question I think.

24 September, 2012 20:13

 
Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Plodonomore - that was kind of my point really.

24 September, 2012 21:14

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will lay my cards on the table and say straight out I am for routine arming.
Ellie, if you roll out arming like taser like you suggest then what happens if your firearms trained officers are off sick or tied up at jobs ?(or do they get to be "special" undeployable except at serious job assets?)
The whole point about arming is that you will PROBABLY never have to use it, but that one time you do, it HAS to be there.
PSNI use the selection centre method of recruitment , which is exactly the same as England and Wales.
No other country this size has unarmed police. Even the other unarmed nations have more armed officers proportionately. We are the exception to the rule and, much as some might like to think so, we don't know things the Swedes/Dutch/Australians/Canadians etc don't know about policing. They use community policing methods just like us and are not paramilitary units.
The bottom line is that the powers that be in this country prefer dead police than dead criminals.

29 September, 2012 00:36

 

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