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 29, 2015

No Yes Means No

I've blogged about rape repeatedly over the years.  It nearly always results in a fairly heated debate.  A lot of men (and probably some women) think that if you are female, support Rape Crisis, and emphatically state that rape is under-reported and under-convicted, you must be a man-hating, blinkered feminist who is blind to the reality of false rape reports. 
Now the DPP is announcing measures to tackle two key rape myths, both of which I have blogged about before.  The core of the measure is placing an onus on the defendant to prove, if it is an issue of consent, that the victim consented.  This could be construed as effectively making it the defendant's job to prove their innocence, which would fundamentally oppose the essence of the British Criminal Justice system.
I don't believe it does that.  I am female, I donate my book royalties to Rape Crisis, and I believe our national record on rape is pretty woeful.  I don't hate men, and I've dealt with more than one false allegation of rape.  (I've also dealt with dozens of genuine ones.)  I therefore like to think I am fairly rational about the whole subject, not that that is for me to judge.
I support the new measures.  I don't think they are likely to make a huge difference, as I don't believe there is ever really any confusion in a man's mind over whether his actions are consented to.  Which is why I don't think this measure is asking someone to prove their own innocence in an unfair way.  If he's lying about consent, he will lie about how he knew she was consenting, and it may be equally hard to prove.  But it's one more way he'll have to craft his story, and therefore one more chance to show a jury he's not telling the truth if it doesn't add up.
It remains to be seen whether the rape conviction rate will rise, if that's even a sensible way of measuring success on this issue (a whole other debate).  But this blinkered feminist is glad to hear about it all the same.

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Things of the Past

A hot potato of recent months is the use of police cells to incarcerate the mentally ill.

What intuition and foresight the Care Minister Norman Lamb has, to suggest today that the NHS, local authorities and the police, have pledged to stop locking up these mental health patients in police cells.  It's not as if anyone knew that this was a problem before last year, when ACC of Devon and Cornwall Police Paul Netherton tweeted about a 16-year-old being held in custody due to a lack of beds.  Well, not since the matter was reported in 2013, or when it was blogged about in 2012, or just about every year before that for ten years or more.
What we'll do, Mr Lamb, is just leave you here for the average time it takes to get the police doctor, followed by two mental health nurses and a psychiatrist, to assess you, then for the time it takes them to find a bed for you.  If you weren't crazy before we started, you will be by the end.
It took the tweet from the ACC to prompt serious attention on this subject despite the fact that Theresa May addressed the Police Federation on this subject in 2013.
I am sure the scores of agencies waiting to take these mentally ill patients off the police's hands, would fill an elevator.  It's not as if the NHS is feeling the effects of cuts on other agencies.  I am sure they won't mind finding a few more beds for depressed drunks who are suicidal for the few hours it takes them to sober up.
Maybe in some areas there is a robust system in place, but in Blandshire there is rarely a day when a mental health patient is not brought into custody.  The minimum wait to get an assessment done is about six hours, and sometimes the Mental Health Team simply refuse to come out, because from the description of the person over the phone, they don't think the person is mentally ill, even though the force doctor thinks they are.
Forgive me if I don't leap for joy that yet another politician is bandying around "pledges" on the subject.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Qu'est-ce que la liberte?

Charlie Hebdo will tomorrow publish three million pictures of the Prophet Mohammed, this time weeping.  Whether you consider this unwise, provocative, heroic or moving, there is a clear public desire to see the magazine rally in the face of utter destruction.
In the UK, the phone-hacking scandal instigated a real swing in opinion towards regulation of the press.  Cases of police taking bribes from journalists compounded the issue.  At the time, as an anonymous police blogger, I no longer felt sure there would be public support for my type of journalism.
Most of these people probably had no desire to insult people's religions. But they liked to know they could if they wanted to.
... I now feel ashamed to have feared for my job, when others are prepared to risk their lives in the name of freedom of speech.
Like it or not, the right to "bring the police service into disrepute" (not that I would ever do such a thing), is part of a free society.  Police chiefs who would discipline or fire officers who speak their minds, should read the words of cartoonist Luz and feel as ashamed as I.
That doesn't mean it's a good idea to use Twitter to verbally abuse the folks you police.  That's just rude, and the best satire should always be as polite as possible.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Trigger the Dail Mail Headline Policy Immediately

Chief Constable Lynne Owens: what an irresponsible woman.  This weekend, she has argued that the police cannot do everything, and that 20% cuts mean that we have to make a decision on what to prioritise.
I am staggered, and propose that Lynne Owens immediately be forced to resign by way of insidious Home Office campaign. 
When I joined the police, I fully accepted that most of my time would be spent searching for fourteen-year-olds whose parents sadly did not have time to search for them themselves.  To hold the hands of drunk people whose girlfriends had left them.  And to assist traumatised divorcees to de-friend their exes on Facebook.  I am appalled that this Chief Constable seeks to prevent me fulfilling my dream of becoming an official Stop-Gap while seriously ill mental health patients await assessment by more qualified staff.
No doubt, next, this crazed woman will suggest that you cannot maintain a fully staffed CID section under these kind of budgetary constraints, or that cuts will cause unpaid volunteers to start investigating crime and forensics.  Or even that scores of actual crimes may not be investigated at all if the severe austerity measures continue.
With these kind of Charlies in charge of our nation's police forces, however will commonsense prevail?




Saturday, January 10, 2015

Looking Back in Perturbation

This blog started in 2006 and had nearly 1.5 million readers before I stopped posting regularly in 2012.
When I look back, there are two themes in my last few posts, which did not occur to me at the time:
1. Freedom of speech was under attack from the Leveson enquiry.
2. Policewomen were being killed.
The feeling that I could be seriously harmed on the front-line, and then stuck on for writing about it, was too much.
But the events in France this week have moved me to write.  I set this blog up to give an insight into what it is like to be a female police officer in the Twenty-First Century. This meant talking about what it is like to be a police officer, and what it is like to be a woman.
When I started blogging, it was the Year of the Woman Police Officer.  There had never been more opportunities for females to join the police and surge their way up the ranks.  At the time, I thought it was just the beginning.  This was my earliest post about Equality. 
As a young female PC, all I wanted was to be treated the same as my male colleagues.  I honestly believed that women were on the up, and saw no ceiling to what I could achieve, if I wanted.  In fact, it drove me mad to see pregnant and part-time mothers being allowed to do whatever they wanted in terms of hours and duties, when I was breaking my back on the front-line.
More recently, in this Telegraph article about the deaths of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, I talked about how budget cuts had done for equality what feminist campaigning never could.
Now in 2015, I see those PCs' deaths as a kind of tipping point.  The conflagration of Winsor, budget cuts, and a lack of public stomach for seeing young women (more so than men) killed in the line of duty, has enabled forces to reduce and restrict the options for women year on year.  A fact they will most strenuously deny, and which I don't believe to be intentional.
Blandshire Constabulary has re-written its flexible and part-time working policy since I joined up.  I learn from colleagues in other forces that this is the same nationwide.  Now, if as a woman you want to be a dog handler, firearms officer, or sergeant (and above), it is almost impossible to start a family.  Returning to work as a mother and a sergeant, you are expected to fill a full-time 24/7 sergeant's role, and there are fewer and fewer options for those who cannot do so.
This is a complex situation.  Far too complex for one post on the matter. 
It is enough to say that policewomen are still being killed in the line of duty.  And freedom of speech has never been under more deadly threat.
The matters I wrote about eight years ago are not resolved.  And we should not stop writing about them.


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