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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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Uncommon Sense

Since my earliest blogging days, and before, we've been reading about how the police should have more Common Sense.
I've bewailed the loss of commonsense from the start.  But here's why I cringe when I hear police commanders and politicians using the phrase as if it represents some brave new world of policy surrounding the police.
A few years ago, Blandshire Constabulary trained us all in Professional Judgment.  This was the politically correct term for Discretion, something that is inherent in the office of constable.  Discretion is the ability of the uniformed bobby to listen to the individual circumstances of the human being facing them, and take a decision based on their own moral judgment, with regard to the needs of society, rather than based on any performance target or edict from above.  The fact that the management thought we had to be trained in this was disturbing enough, but the training itself was farcical.
I sat for several hours while a trainer and a superintendent told me in exactly what circumstances I was able to use my discretion and when I wasn't.  Not based on the law (as there are some situations where an officer is duty bound to act a certain way), but based on Blandshire's risk assessments and policies.
By the end of the training, it was clear that the purpose of rolling out Professional Judgment, was to make very clear to all officers and the public (as well as the media and the IPCC), that officers of Blandshire Constabulary made their own decisions, and therefore it would not be their sergeant, inspector or commander's fault if they happened to make the wrong one.
PC Kevin Duff and PCSO Andrew Passmore have been jailed for failing to prevent the murder of a vulnerable man.  The judge blamed the wider failings of the police.
Whilst there is no excuse for the sloppy judgment shown by the officers in this case, how many times had they neglected their duty without action from above?  How do we get into a situation where a man's life can depend on the character of the police officer called to help him?  How many lives have been saved because an officer used their judgment to go above and beyond what their manager had required?
It's all very well preaching about commonsense and discretion, I'll endorse it when I see that officers truly are able to do their jobs without "fear or favour", and that is going to take more than fine words.

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


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just commenting that glad to see you're alive and not silenced.

20 February, 2016 12:27

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how will management demonstrate that their officer's judgement has been monitored and fallen within acceptable bounds when the brown stuff hits the fan?

20 February, 2016 18:49

Blogger David Redfern said...

I was a Cop for 11 years in Glasgow in the 70's/80's. Got into lots of scrapes largely because I either failed to use my discretion or didn't follow standing orders. Whichever one I conformed to, I seemed to be wrong.

I realised eventually, it wasn't my inability to apply either practice correctly, it was my big mouth when I objected to being criticised.

But then I figured I wasn't going to go down without a fight when I was criticised, ever, so I just let my big mouth run and run. The upshot being, I couldn't ever be singled out for criticism because my history of objection to inconsistency was far too long.

I have been out the job for 30+ years now and although towards the end I loathed the job, I have fond memories of brilliant times.

Sadly, I don't keep in touch with more than one or two of my former colleagues. They all seemed to stand still in the job whilst I tried to move on from it. And frankly, most are strange people now. Or perhaps it's me.

25 February, 2016 01:25


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