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, December 07, 2009

The Robot

We're into the six-week countdown before Christmas and the locals are celebrating Blandmore-style. For some reason burglaries apparently always rise during November/December. Our Superintendent thinks it's to do with Christmas presents, but so far the main increase seems to be in aggravated burglaries on the elderly, and balaclava-wearing, gangster-type jewellery heists on private dwellings.

My personal theory is it's the probation service and courts letting lots of criminals out early "in time for Christmas". For some reason I can't get anyone to give me figures to substantiate that.

Anyway, November and December are "very bad" for our figures apparently. Which is surprising because only a few weeks ago I attended a special training day in which I was told that we don't have numerical targets any more. So I can only assume that by "bad for our figures" the superintendent meant that we are eating too many mince pies and puddings. And I can only assume "our" refers to specialist departments, because down on response we certainly haven't got time to gain weight, let alone jump on the scales to find out either way.

I do wonder how long we can go on for with the current level of staffing. It seems to me there is a certain amount of time it takes the average PC to deal with an incident of some seriousness, and that whatever pressure the area is under, that time should never and can never be reduced. And yet when the senior management team send out emails that we should be dealing with more and more incidents, arresting more and more offenders, getting more and more successful convictions, with fewer and fewer staff, there is only one place this extra work can come from and that is by each officer doing more. So my PCs rush from job to job, half-taking a statement here, half-seizing an exhibit there, and wholly reading the emails they get about their shoddy workmanship. Plus they've got me, like Marvin the depressed robot, constantly railing against the establishment and encouraging them to ignore the radio, forget the targets, and concentrate on what they're doing in spite of all other voices to the contrary.

There are two kinds of front-line sergeant. Either you are an automated server, passing on text written by someone else with no input into the content. Or you are antivirus software, vetting, scanning and scrutinising everything you are given and deciding what is safe to pass on and what should be labelled as Junk. I know which kind of sergeant my force would rather I were. And I know which kind I am.

I'm finding out at the moment why sergeants are paid more.

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


Anonymous CLG said...

Neither the courts nor Probation decide when people are let out and certainly no-one is let out simply because it's Christmas - the half-way point, home detention eligibility and ECL dates are pretty much set in stone and have nothing to do with either service.
Whilst the Prisons might have a bit more freedom, they are still bound by the length of sentence and those relevant release dates.

So please don't blame the rest of the criminal justice system when people choose to offend.

07 December, 2009 19:52

Anonymous MET PC said...

Im very lucky that most of the Sgt's on my team are like yourself. THey filter out the crap and allow us to get on with our job, even our GUV is the same. I know its not the same in the whole of the MET but in our little corner of paradise it does help the morale of the PC's!!

So a big thanks for knowing there are those out there with common sense.

P.S. On a slightly off-key note...Why the Hell do the SMT insist on single patrol on a borough with Gang violence, knives, guns, murder and domestics a-plenty?????

07 December, 2009 20:39

Anonymous Anonymous said...

let the numbers talk.
You have a hard decision to make,get criminals off the street one at a time or toady.
I would think it be better to get 1 good conviction nicely tied up in CPS bows than five half done jobs that end in file 13.
Of course, you could have a Harlow copy cat and he be the one to find a nice flat in the next county.

07 December, 2009 20:41

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'no-one is let out simply because it's Christmas'

I'm sorry but that is complete and utter rubbish. Criminals ARE routinely let out early for Christmas and I speak with complete authority on this as one of my roles is to monitor them.

07 December, 2009 21:54

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

Thanks Gadget you beat me to it. A prolific offender in custody this week was allowed to make a phone-call and I was asked to monitor it. He said to his girlfriend: "Drop me off some clothes for court, and bring in the pictures of your baby scan to prove you're pregnant as then they'll probably let me have Christmas with the family".

Conversely, on response we try to nab the worst of our local scum IN ORDER to lock them up for Christmas. Whether or not you think it's fair to ruin their festive fun, at least that way they can't ruin anyone else's.

07 December, 2009 22:54

Blogger Jamougha said...

Everyone works overtime before Christmas to be able to afford presents. Why would criminals be any different?

07 December, 2009 22:54

Blogger PC Bloggs said...

PS Probation do not decide, but they do provide the reports relied on prior to any early release. Plus the courts most certainly do let people out, in the cases of those held on remand pending trial.

07 December, 2009 22:54

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pc B, is the extra as a Sgt worth it though?


08 December, 2009 08:04

Blogger Busy said...

I'm a big fan of deleting monday morning e-mails.
I got one once, apparently from a chief Inspector berating me for not doing something, telling me i'd let the whole force down and to go and see the person I'd allegedly failed and throw myself at their feet and beg forgiveness. It was a really unpleasant threatening e-mail.
I phoned the department responsible, fearing for my job, to be told "Oh, that's just a pro-forma e-mail we send to everyone in these cases. Just drop us note to tell us what you've done and that'll be fine."
Since then I've deleted most of the 'You appear not to have complied' e-mails I get. Most of the depts sending them send out so many they can't keep tabs on them all anyway.

08 December, 2009 08:25

Anonymous CLG said...

I apologise, I hadn't considered bail cases as I rarely have anything to do with them. And I admit you're entirely right on that point. I also had a PPO last year released for the same reason you overheard (although the baby was extremely sick) - only to commit another offence whilst on bail and before the child was born.

Probation do provide reports, but these aren't for early release - only home detention curfew assessments and parole reports. We certainly don't release people "early" or have input into bail reports (YOTs do though). Our hands are tied by when the government says we have to release people.

08 December, 2009 08:32

Anonymous Lief Ella said...

Time was, coppers had steel tips under the heels and toes of their boots. Sure, it alerted wrongdoers to their presence, because said wrongdoers knew if caught, they would get a swift kick from said officer.

Officers need to be given more ability to administer the ability to ensure wrongdoers get the message, but sadly, a return to traditional values is so totaly eroded this day and age. Still nevermind, its just a job.

08 December, 2009 09:28

Anonymous R/T said...

Busy - I had a skipper quite recently who was a bit of a card. He came back of a 6 week break to find over 200 e-mails (I kid you not!) in his in box. He highlighted them all and then, with one click, deleted the lot. He had ONE mail back asking why he had deleted their important missive w/o reading it!

08 December, 2009 09:35

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your right R/T delete the lot. If it is important they'll get back to you. Thats the only way I've had any time to patrol my patch since my probation.

I am sure there is a dept. at our HQ who's sole role is to send pointless emails.


08 December, 2009 12:47

Anonymous Retired Sgt said...

It is important that officers do the job they are at properly-if not and there is a problem later with lack of evidence continuity poor quality of statements we know who gets it in the neck-not the SMT
but the Pc and the Sergeant.I know it is difficult but saying the word "NO" can be just as important in the longer term than dashing round like headless chickens and standing up to SMTs sorts out the real Sgts from the wannabes

08 December, 2009 14:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine a team led by Gadget with Bloggsie and may I humbly suggest myself as Sgts. Anyone want to transfer?

08 December, 2009 17:44

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would'nt work.

We'd all have different uniforms, be used to different computer systems, have to fill different forms in for the same job, be on different pay scales / allowances and even have to put evidence files in differently.

08 December, 2009 18:07

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like your Superintendent is a twat. You two can shake hands.

08 December, 2009 20:05

Anonymous R/T said...

The Duty Sgt - just as long as I can drive the R/T car!

08 December, 2009 20:13

Blogger blueknight said...

The Courts may not let the offender out at Xmas, or any other time, but it is in their power to adjust the original sentence so that the offender is out in time for it.

08 December, 2009 23:28

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to say something about Ruralshire Probation Service. They are excellent. I used to think they were soft on criminals until I worked with them for a bit, and I discovered that their attitude to persistent offenders is the same, of not harsher, than ours! They will do anything to get a recall. They have to sit and listen to hours of crap from these people. They are good.

09 December, 2009 07:06

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prisoners not let out at Xmas? Piffle!

We're closing a prison for a week up here at Xmas.

09 December, 2009 23:47

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10 December, 2009 16:56

Anonymous NottsSarge said...

Well done Bloggsy! It's a fine line to tread, and inevitably, the higher up the ladder you go, the more bs you are subjected to and have to pass on. The bonus is that at Sgt level, you do have to pass it on, but you get to decide how.
The Home Office and Senior Management Team can have whatever visions, policies and strategies they like. You are the operational supervisor of your staff - you decide what they will do when and in what numbers. I find that if you dress it up in their own management terms and throw it back at them you won't go far wrong. If you've made a 'dynamic risk assessment' that double-crewing is in order, that's fine. If it's 'best value' that two officers arrest and transport in one car rather than leaving a vehicle on the street to get trashed, that too is acceptable.

I come to work to do my job to the best of my ability. I expect the same from my team and also, to be fair, everyone else around me. Dress it up how you like and call it whatever silly names you spend thousands deciding on, we'll deliver what we can, no more and no less. Spam filter indeed...

11 December, 2009 09:20


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