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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Monday, August 03, 2009

The Victim Focus Dance

The public at large may be surprised to hear that the police nowadays are entirely VICTIM-FOCUSED. In fact, Blandshire Constabulary is so victim-focused that it pays a lot of people to draft victim focus policies, carry out victim focus surveys, and monitor how many uniformed front-line coppers are really as focused on victims as they should be.

Then, every morning, the superintendent chairs a meeting where he demands to know how each officer on duty the night before focused on victims, how many numbers have been generated proving it, and whether there are any victims still out of focus that could be addressed later that day.

"We're gonna find that pesky victim, wherever he's hiding, and focus on him whether he likes it or not!"

The golden rules of Victim Focus (sent to us daily as an attachment in every cheery email from the superintendent, thereby filling up my inbox so that emails I want to receive such as replies about whether or not I have annual leave or crucial information about upcoming court cases cannot get through aboutwhichIamnotevenslightlybitter) are:
  • All officers secretly hate victims and want them to die. Blandshire Constabulary's job is to stifle these impulses.
  • It's about victims, so it's not performance culture.
  • When the word 'victim' is mentioned, the rules of evidence and procedure cease to exist.
  • Even where a crime has no known victim, the victim has given false details or told the police to fuck off, a surprising amount of resources can be used to focus on that victim from afar without his/her permission.

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


Blogger Unknown said...

How can you hit the nail so squarely on the head and still not be sacked?

03 August, 2009 20:52

Blogger sibadd said...

It's fun. Pompous me - an academic - runs scrutiny seminars for Police Authorities on switching the 'conversation' with the Home Office to one with 'the public' in all their teaming scheming diversity. Turning a tanker around, but it might just reduce all the cuffing, nodding, skewing and stitching prompted by the 'performance' machine. One of our students - a senior retired officer - used FoI to obtain stats showing police deployed not to the areas with the most crime but to those with best chance of achieving successful prosecution. It has a certain Kafkaesque logic you'll surely agree (:)) Now stop whingeing and get out there and find those pesky victims...

04 August, 2009 08:14

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you seriously have a size-limited inbox? That's awful.

04 August, 2009 12:29

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

What a victim wants-I think-is
1.To be able to phone up their local nick to report being a victim to have a sensible conversation about their crime with someone who appears to know what they are talking about
2.To have a POLICE OFFICER come and visit them about their crime if both parties agree it is useful and show some interest in the crime
3.That the investigating officer does his best to solve the crime and keeps the victim"in the loop"
4.That if there is a succesful prosecution that the offender is dealt with appropriately.
Is that too difficult?-Apparently,yes.

04 August, 2009 12:53

Blogger sibadd said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

04 August, 2009 12:53

Anonymous Simon Baddeley said...

Hear hear!

04 August, 2009 13:02

Anonymous Fee said...

Retired Sgt - you hit the nail right on the head, mate. That is what the public want, and we generally don't understand why we can't have it ... unless we read the many police blogs on the internet!

04 August, 2009 13:25

Blogger DOT said...

I am a victim and need the comfort of your genuine sincerity. Please don't abuse me further with cynicism - it hurts. Here and here.

04 August, 2009 15:16

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Have a look at todays(4/8)Independent(I am not clever enough to do that link thing) and read the article by Tom Sutcliffe called What a waste of police time-and mine after he called the Met about having his car broken into twice-or rather perhaps the Chiefs should read it

04 August, 2009 15:32

Blogger sibadd said...
Sutcliffe piece

04 August, 2009 19:13

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

Now here is an example of "Victim Focus"-as some of you may know I live in a country in Europe.There was a burglary over the past few days which was found yesterday when the couple returned home after a short break away.This was the first crime in the village for 3 years.The local paramilitary police station was called and a uniformed officer arrived within 10 minutes.He was immaculately turned out and you could see he meant business.He spent some time reassuring the couple and then examined the point of entry and the inside.He then went to his car pulled out a SOCO case and proceeded to dust for prints took glass samples etc.He then took a written statement from the victim and stayed for about 2 hours in total.When he spoke to me later on H2H I explained that I had been a police officer and was impressed by the manner in which the matter was dealt with and the scene exam."But"he said "this is normal surely with your famous Scotland Yard you would do this too?"I just did not know how to reply.
Makes you think doesnt it-why and how have the UK police forces gone so badly wrong?

05 August, 2009 12:37

Blogger sibadd said...

I think these kinds of actions are not only outside the current radar, they draw groans of contemptuous scorn from too many current police professionals. That said the performance machine of the Home Office - now gradually and clumsily shifting in your direction - is incapable of instilling virtues it has so comprehensively eradicated from modern policing. How ironic that care for the victim is now seen as a another central government con by a working officer. I have experienced truly heart-warming exceptions to this cynicism. There are good and decent and competent officers out there who care about victims and really go that extra mile despite day to day human depravity and witlessness and the constraints placed on front-line police by the 'performance monster'. I hope my daughter is one of these along with the colleagues of hers I've met.

05 August, 2009 13:50

Anonymous Raindog said...

It seems policing in the UK spends too much time thinking and too little time actually policing.......

05 August, 2009 18:52

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to offer my services as a victim.

Excellent reports and imaginative victim scenarios delivered on request via phone to your nick.

Excellent victim based feedback on your progress on my case.

This will be delivered on the understanding that you will spend your newly acquired spare time active on a worthy case of your choosing.

You can find me on your facebook friends list, among family members or your old mates from school. You may already trust me more than you do your CO.

05 August, 2009 19:47

Anonymous Simon Baddeley said...

Fraud, theft and paedophilia in cyberspace where national boundaries become almost irrelevant, shifting and ever more ingenious drug routes, complex negotiation between separate jurisdictions in a connected world, people trafficking, increasing acess to firearms, illegal immigration, massive public events, asymmetric war (which means wars no longer have front lines and we can be blown up anywhere), stronger links between the idea of crime reduction and economic regeneration, reduced deference to authority (the list goes on) and any police force that tries to police without thinking, let alone without inyelligence in both senses of that word, is going to create even more problems. What i love about this blog is you get to read what these incredible pressures mean to the bobby (or bobbette) on the beat. How do they keep their integrity and even their sanity. Some do and they are my heroes. The ones that allow you to sleep well at night - even though that may be an illusion. Life's complex. Only those who can learn fast can hope to keep up with today's turbulent environment. Too many people are wandering around like blind angry bulls in a china shop, preferring the big digital screen to the confusions faced on the street by PC Bloggs, whose sense of humour and gift of the keyboard gab keeps her (and a lot of others) on and power to your elbows, officer!

05 August, 2009 19:59

Blogger sibadd said...

Sorry about my spelling (:)) S

05 August, 2009 20:00

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cut and paste from the address line
thanks for the balanced pov.
Tthe peen ball used was good but try a fourteen lb sledge, it might fit.

06 August, 2009 03:38

Blogger staghounds said...

So you're saying that no matter what the patrol officers do, the administrators will focus whether we like it or not?

12 August, 2009 13:09

Blogger sibadd said...

Caught between the Home Office rock and the on-the-ground hard place. It's the dilemma for anyone who want to govern yet be elected. It why some refuse promotion or others go back to front-line policing - same in the army. Max Weber a century ago wrote "The tension between democracy and bureaucracy creates the most profound source of tension in the modern social order." I've been asking practitioner's about this most of my career as an academic. Every now and then the differences - of experience and objectives - get temporarily resolved and history's made. It's not the norm. Why on earth is a practical sensible funny blogger like this in the guise of a working police officer reduced to a blog chapter that in my book, and the 'Retired Sgt', looks like mocking people who are victims of crime and those police officers who try to serve them. I've got friends who've experienced this kind of service from good officers and we've had it too. It's why I'm proud but anxious about my daughter joining the police.
But hasn't professional integrity always entailed bladerunning between doing the right thing and rendering unto Caesar and isn't the ability to do that, in any walk, always going to be rare? You can order people to obey rules. You can encourage them to read between the lines, but there'll always only be 'a few good men (and women)'.

12 August, 2009 14:13


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