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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Friday, April 15, 2016

A Routine Call

Whenever I was called to a job involving someone armed with a firearm, machete, or other weapon of lethal force, I used to be fairly relaxed. 
"Are you wearing PPE?" Control room ask.
You have time to stop, put on your body armour or tighten it up, give your PAVA gas a shake and think about how you're going to approach the address, what cover you will use to hide from harm, and how you and your colleagues may subdue the offender. 
Inevitably, on arrival, the weapon is nowhere to be seen or is thrown down quickly.
It's the "routine calls" that get you.
The domestic that turns into an officer fighting for her life against an axe-wielding maniac.
PC Lisa Bates lost a finger and sustained a fractured skull in the attack
The vehicle check where the offender suddenly pulls out a handgun.
To guard against this type of incident, you would have to train officers to risk-assess like soldiers in hostile territory.  To assume every house, every car, contains an enemy tooled up to the eyeballs.  You would need four times, or ten times, the number of armed officers, to ensure you don't have the ludicrous situation where the police are no more equipped than the public to deal with these incidents.
The government wants police officers to now pay to put themselves through a policing degree, and is leaning towards recruits and senior officers with higher level exams and civilian business experience.  How do you reconcile the true nature of policing, the blood, the guts and the ignominy, with the government's view of the white collar police academic?
Yet more evidence that the government is not on our wavelength when it comes to police reform.
Yet more evidence that the sacrosanct British bobby is on the way out.  How many will continue to do their job, under these conditions?

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

Thursday, April 07, 2016

It's still the police's fault

Even though the IPCC concluded that Lee Birch was hell-bent on killing ex-wife Anne-Marie, the papers still report this as if it was the police's fault.  No officers had to answer for misconduct and there were "learning points" only, which is effectively when the IPCC tell you to assume every future call will be a potential murder.
Domestic murders are particularly grim, and no police officer wants to think they had a chance to intervene in one.  But the papers (and public) repeatedly fail to grasp key facts about this type of crime:
  • It is not news that domestic incidents had been reported to the police before.  Very few people wake up one day and become psychotic murderers with no previous pattern of violent behaviour.
  • If there was insufficient evidence to prove previous reports, then no charges could have been brought.
  • Non-molestation/Prevention against harassment orders are only as good as the sentences given for breaching them. 
  • The police do not make court bail decisions, nor sentencing ones.
  • Family, friends and neighbours are quick to blame the police post-death, but may not have been willing to give statements or intervene before the murder happened.  They should not be blamed for wanting answers as they deal with feelings of guilt and bereavement, but they may be no more or no less culpable than the police.
It is an eternal frustration to read headlines like the above, especially in a case where the police really did very little wrong.  Of course, when the police do get it wrong, the case should be highlighted, and any officers who messed up through laziness or incompetence should be duly dealt with. 
In all such cases, it would be nice if the press would remember that in every case of domestic violence that does NOT lead to a murder, there is the possibility that the police did something right. 
Which doesn't make for such a snappy headline.

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

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Off with Stress

At last, some concrete figures to support what front-line officers have been feeling over the last few years: police officers off sick with stress is up a whopping 35% in flat numbers despite a decrease in overall police numbers.
When I joined Blandshire Constabuary in 2003, there was never a shortage of people putting their hands up for voluntary overtime, to stay on dealing with shoplifters, doing scene watches, or just covering shortages on the next shift.  In recent years as a sergeant, trying to find people to stay on was like pulling teeth.  In the end, we'd just draw straws.  Gruelling shift patterns, reduced staffing levels and reduction in rest day working payments, have all contributed.
All these measures were designed to save money and alter police conditions to bring it more in line with a "normal" job.  Instead, they are forcing overtime budgets up and now we are seeing the consequence of trying to treat police officers like any other employees. 
Police work is not "normal".  That's not me having an inflated view of myself or my colleagues.  That's fact.  In any other job, if someone swears in your face and threatens you, you call a manager or for the police.  If there's a fire alarm or bomb alert, you evacuate to safety.  If a colleague is attacked and seriously injured, someone else will come to help you and deal with it. 
In the police, you are the one that deals with these situations.  I have tended to injured parties while fights go on around my head.  I have been assaulted and threatened on numerous occasions.  I have dealt with defecation and vomit, and still done my job.  I have reassured people who were dying, even though it was hopeless.  I have crept alone through darkened houses looking for intruders, because the householders were too afraid.  I have been the only thing standing between a woman and the husband wanting to smash her face in.  I have taken decisions that no one else wanted to take, when all my managers were asleep in bed.  I have been blamed for mistakes I've made and the mistakes of others.  I have seen good men and women drawn to desperate acts that lost them their jobs, due to a lack of supervision and support.
Policing is not a normal job, but it is done by normal humans.  The moment you forget that, police officers will lack the support and respect needed to stay motivated, healthy, and honest.  If you think that's an excuse, show me that you would be any different. 
Like it or lump it, we will get the police force we pay for.

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


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