Police Inspector

I'm a big fan of police blogging, hardly a day goes past without me working with the police on one call or another. So I know that they are human beings with the same frustrations and concerns as the rest of us. Unfortunately they come in for a lot of criticism from the press and are unable to respond. Their PR department seems to prefer 'spin' and 'whitewash', playing the violins while the Titanic sinks rather than providing the truth of police work. The police blogs give us an insight into a secretive world where their hands are tied by the government and this has prevented them from making the real difference that many of them joined the service to do.

The police management have a habit of shutting down the blogs though, perhaps they can't see how well they humanise the police services. No longer is the harassed copper who comes to take your details a uniformed cog in the machine, but is instead someone who is so buried under paperwork and government targets that they can't help you no matter how much they would like to.

It looks like another police blog is in danger of disappearing, Inspector Gadget is to have an 'informal chat' with the Professional Standards Unit. His sources tell him that this will be about the blog, and that he may be in some serious trouble.

At no point has he brought the Police Service into disrepute, he has not interfered with any investigation (ongoing or in the past) and his blog has shown people the world over the struggles and strains of trying to serve the public while facing unreasonable pressures from government. He tells the truth without it being whitewashed with 'spin'. The should be no reason why his bosses should want it removed.

This leads onto the wider question as to why the Police hierarchy don't like the truth being told. Nor why members of the police seem to have their Human Right of freedom of speech and expression removed from them.

Please, go over to his site, read the archives to see what a great blog it is and leave a comment of support. He deserves it, and hopefully with a show of public support it may demonstrate to his seniors why we need police bloggers.

It would be a terrible loss to see him disappear like 'The Law is an Ass', or 'Brian's Brief Encounters'.

Why can't they be as blog friendly as the London Ambulance Service?

24 thoughts on “Police Inspector”

  1. I've read a number of police blogs over the past few months. I'd hate for them to go away. For one, they give the paying public an alternative to the official 'spun', dry cleaned and sanitized version purveyed by the Home Office, the MPS press office and the like. Also they reveal what the average plod thinks, both good and bad.”If for example there was an openly racist police blogger would we want him to be outed?”

    Outed? Probably, but more important would be for the public to know that that attitude persists. I know from my own sources that the modern police service is still far far more racist than the official view would have us believe.

    “Sadly I conclude that it would be very hard for police forces to adopt the same permissive policy on bloggers that the LAS seems to have done with Reynolds. The minute police officers start commenting on anything at all it will either be political, or it will be regarded by some as political. “

    I think it's probably political by definition. But what's better, that the political views of the police (collectively and individually) are hidden from the public at large, or known to them?

    Generally I think it's bad for the operation of a public service to be hidden from the public who pay for it, and vote on policies affecting it. Who does it serve to keep the internal workings and politics of the police secret? Not the public interest, that's sure.

  2. I ought to be commenting on this myself, as a police officer – and a keen reader of blogs, including Inspector Gadget.However, I am posting this reply to let you know (if you didn't already) that YOU ARE GOING TO BE ON RADIO 4 AGAIN at sometime between 1815 and 1900 hours tonight (Sunday 24 Sept). You have just been trailed as being on Pick Of The Week – a programme in which the presenter broadcasts their favourite bits of this week's radio. The trail just said '[the presenter] this week finds poetry in an ambulance driver's blog'.

    It'll be a clip from 'Midweek' – good to know that it is deemed one of the best things this week!

  3. I agree that people in whatever profession should be able to blog but personally I think Inspector Gadget is an ass, and I hope his blog doesn't carry on. I've read his blog for the past two months or so and haven't seen any humour or anything remotely interesting. All he does is moan about anyone who is of higher rank than him or support staff. Inspector Gadget needs to wake up and realise how much harder his job would be without the very people he moans about……. While the staff he works with may not be very good, he shouldn't lead people to believe we are all like that!!!!

  4. Ok tradesecret, I just have to ask why you've been reading a blog for two months that you don't find humorous or interesting? A thought that comes to mind is that you've been reading something else since I've been reading Inspector Gadget's blog too and haven't observed any excessive moaning or denigration of subordinates at all.I am interested however to know why you've decided to raise this on another blog rather on the source one…

  5. It's not only the regulars who are risking their careers. The Special Constable blog Special Copper blog has disappeared from the scene overnight. All that remains is a 404 error. Not even the standard 'blog not found' default page. So it looks like someone actually made blogger delete the whole blog and any references to it.Didn't the communists and nazis suppress their own citizens free speech too?

  6. Paperpusher, I've stuck with it for the past two months cos when I started reading it seemed ok then when it changed I hoped it might be a short term thing. Also being a member of Police Staff I am interested in the blogs by police although sadly they seem to be dropping. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of blogs but if you think that then maybe we are reading different blogs!I decided to do it here as Reynolds has mentioned what a great blog it is and wanted to express my opinion of it. Questions I have asked on Inspector's blog have been ignored so whats the point in posting a comment that doesn't get a reaction/answer…… clearly it had its effect here!!

  7. Not many special constabulary ones now – PSD will probably see them as more of an easy target to be honest as they may think they are “easier to get rid of”. I have already had a couple of scares about people knowing of mine and it being mine!Perhaps he has deleted his blog himself (after being pressured) there is an option to delete it

  8. I recall having a blog on blogger for a few weeks a couple of years ago, but iut was so boring i deleted it. |even then it displayed a 'this blog does not exist' page, not 404.Wonder what's happened to SC.

  9. Right – these thoughts are not fully formed, but the sentiments have been brewing for a while…Part of what I want to say relates to the general tone of police blogs, and part relates to the idea of police blogging itself.

    I've been a police officer for about six years now. I joined (like many other these days) comparatively late in life, in my early 40s. If you told me ten or fifteen years ago that I'd be a policeman one day I'd have simultaneously looked horrified and laughed my head off.

    But I don't think it is only me that has changed over those ten or fifteen years. The police service (I am happy to use that word as well as 'force', unlike many of my colleagues) has changed enormously. Some of that change has resulted in the target-driven, PC-gone-mad, you-couldn't-make-it-up type of thing about which David Copperfield, Inspector Gadget and others write so well.

    The other side of the change, the massively positive side, the side which many police bloggers either don't realise or choose to ignore – is the side which has challenged the conscious and unconscious racism within society (and therefore within the police); the homophobia and the targeting of gay pubs, clubs and meeting places; the wielding of power without acceptance of accountability.

    I'm not saying that police officers who served during that time are bad people – I know and deeply respect many of them. But some of my experiences of the police when I grew up in London in the 70s and 80s were deeply negative – ranging from unprofessional behaviour to open racism.

    So, many police bloggers will criticise the latest fashionable government initiative, with no thought or examination of the possible reasons or history behind that initiative.

    As an example – many police officers slag off the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), which is an (admittedly bureaucratic) attempt to bring consistency and integrity into crime reporting across the country. The aim is to get figures about crime which actually mean something, and which can be used to plan for future needs. One of the results is the fact that we have to 'crime everything', leading to a frustrating inability to exercise our discretion over 'shit jobs' that we /know/ are 'going nowhere'.

    Although I too get frustrated about NCRS, I also recall a day that I was cycling to work near Clissold Park in north London and I got knocked off my bike. I landed badly on my wrist, and as I picked myself up the driver of the car which had knocked me off got out of his car and started having a go at me. I tried to put my damaged bike between me and him but he punched me in the face. I fell to the ground with blood spurting from my nose, and he got back in his car and drove off.

    While this was happening an independent witness (a passing driver who had stopped) was phoning the police. She stayed around until they arrived about fifteen minutes later. We were ready with the number plate of the offending car, and our descriptions of the driver. I was covered in blood from my bleeding nose.

    The two officers who attended regretfully informed me that what had occurred was a 'common assault', and that it was a therefore a 'civil matter'. They said that due to this fact, much as they would like to assist they were actually legally prevented from doing so. I would have to engage a solicitor to act on my behalf, and take my assailant to court myself – if I could find him.

    They refused to take my details, those of the witness, or our descriptions of the offending vehicle or driver. I took their word for it, and wheeled my wobbly bike home.

    Later, having gone to work by tube, I visited UCH and found I had a broken bone in my wrist. I phoned the police and told them this. I was completely ignored, and heard nothing.

    Of course now I know that the officers cuffed the crime. I was a shit job which was probably going nowhere. Now, from their perspective, faced with the same situation, I can see myself inwardly sighing about having to record both a FTS/FTR injury/damage RTC, and an ABH with the T1, MG11, crime report, RTC stats etc etc to fill in with at best a messy conclusion at court in 18 months, and at worst the whole thing just being NFAd after all that work had been done.

    But I actually deserved a service, and I was lied to to prevent me from getting that service. If NCRS stops that kind of thing happening, then it has some worth.

    I see many of the changes that have taken place in the police over the last few years as very positive. That isnt a view you tend to read in many (or any?) police blogs though.

    As for the idea of police blogging itself

    Im a very political person. Ive never belonged to any party, but I have my own views and am interested in politics and passionate about certain issues.

    However, when I joined the police I knew that these views would have to stay private. As a police officer you are specifically barred from active involvement in politics. There are very good reasons for this.

    As an EMT, Tom Reynolds has to provide a certain level of service but he has very few coercive powers to allow him to do so. It wouldnt matter very much if someone knew what political party he voted for, or how he feels about how Ken is running London. It is unlikely that anyone would believe that this would affect his treatment of them when they are suffering from an asthma attack (with the exception of accusations of racism, which are sadly all too familiar).

    With the police it is quite different. We have massive coercive powers. We can chose to arrest people, slap handcuffs on them, and lock them up for hours while we take statements and seize videos etc. We can kick their doors in and go through all their stuff. We can stop them in the street and pat them down. We can stop them going to a demonstration (eg. Docklands), or pen them up and prevent them from leaving one for hours (eg. Oxford Circus).

    We have been used politically before (eg, the General Strike, the Miners Strike etc), and there is always pressure on us certainly from this current government – to act in certain ways.

    If individual officers become involved in open political comment, then the communities that they work within will be less willing to trust them. We have to maintain impartiality at all times sadly at the cost of our own individual freedom of expression.

    One answer is anonymous blogging, but we all know how difficult it is to maintain. Ask Abby Lee, or any other outed blogger. But you also have to think about what views you would be comfortable with a police blogger expressing. If for example there was an openly racist police blogger would we want him to be outed?

    Sadly I conclude that it would be very hard for police forces to adopt the same permissive policy on bloggers that the LAS seems to have done with Reynolds. The minute police officers start commenting on anything at all it will either be political, or it will be regarded by some as political. And thats were the problems start.

    Sorry for not putting it particularly eloquently, and for hijacking your comments!

  10. I've spent part of today reading it and I can understand why the powers that be would want to have a word, it's quite critical of some areas of Police procedure. Whether the procedure is right or wrong in Inspector Gadget's eyes, his bosses are ALWAYS going to stick up for it, they devised it!I've found that the plod on the streets are very good at what they do, it's when managers get involved that things start to go wrong for them.

    Also, I can imagine they are putting their umbrellas up in case a suspect or victim is recognised and a case goes to pieces. The press would have a field day over “POLICE OFFICER'S BLOG SETS RAPIST FREE” or “BLOG IDENTIFIES WITNESS, WITNESS NOW DEAD”. Whilst unlikely, there's no way it could happen if the blog isn't getting written, is there?

  11. RoryF, Thanks for all that – I think I'll digest it all and when I get a few free moments (all too few these days unfortunately) I'll post a response.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about!

  12. What you've written makes a lot of sense, but I just love reading the funny or unbelievable stories of the jobs they have been called to. It's also very interesting to know a little about the rest of the work the officer has to do, such as paper work. As already mentioned, this gives us an insight into the kind of pressures that officers are under. Also I think it helps to bring some barriers down between the police and the general public when we read about how their hands are tied in certain circumstances.Of course, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. From reading his blog I see that even Tom has to show discernment at times if relating the story could affect a court case for example. But also whilst knowing a little about “behind the scenes” helps us to be more patient and recognise the officers limitations, too much information can cause a person to lack faith in the justice system altogether (if the comments are all negative).

  13. We were on about the serious side of it so that's all I was commenting on but the “war stories” are always good for a laugh. The advantage of copper's blogs is that you get some of the war stories for free rather than the old fashioned method of having to pay for them in beer – the *best* stories will still require you to be there in person with a beer glass.

  14. Steady on.You can like it, you can dislike it, you can think he's a (whatever name you can think of). You can stop reading his blog, and you don't have to miss it when it's gone. You can disagree with his opinions, you can believe that you know better, that your blog is better, anything you like.

    … but there's a big big big gap between that, and actually hoping that he is forced to stop blogging.

    (also – if you can't have a moan on your own blog, where the hell can you?)

  15. oh, I wouldn't worry about that, there's people who have been reading my blog for *months* just so they can have a laugh with each other on their messageboard about how boring I am. You should see my sitemeter referral logs. Boringness is apparently one of the most consistently entertaining things there is…

  16. OTOH, the police work for us not – as some of them think – for the government. We are entitled to know what goes on. The officers who should be disciplined are those (Chief Constables and PR staff) who “spin” (i.e. tell lies) to the public.

  17. Tradesecret, Persoanlly I think his blog is very funny and well written. I love his style of writing and his sarcastic sense of humour. I can understand how that could come across as moaning to someone who doesn't “get” his humour – and that is not meant as an insult to you at all, I just know from past experience that not everyone finds that style of humour funny as I used to offend people all the time by being like this. So it just shows that we're all different. You may find other blogs funny that I don't “get”. I won't name it, but I know of an extremely popular blog that's not to my taste at all. I wouldn't say that I want a blog to stop though just because I personally don't like it.

  18. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like but I wonder…….I just wonder……..if the Senior Ranks *all to be praised and worshipped?* are the ones enforcing the closures of blogs, one has to wonder who's calling the shots here……! I doubt it's a case of Senior Ranks *all to be praised and worshipped?* saying, “Bally heck! Can't have jolly Johnny writing whatever he feels about Government targets and making us all look useless! Shut him down, for heaven's sake, man!”Naaaaaaah – that has Senior Rank Politician (pun intended) *Never to be praised and worshipped* written all over it………/meage – biologically, 36 – cynically, 47000.

  19. RoryF, I wish you wrote a blog. I tend to avoid reading the police blogs I've come across, because I find their “anti-PC” rants annoying in the extreme. Yep, sure, I love it when people in the public sector point out examples of bureaucracy-gone-mad, but when they start raving about how they're sick of having to pay lip-service to equitable treatment of group X (Asians, gays, blacks, women whatever), unlike the good-old-days of the 70s, my brain switches off.I'd love to see something with more perspective and a decent degree of neutrality, but a real view of the inside, which it looks like you could provide in spades. Please consider it.

  20. Sorry m'dear, but we don't work for you OR the Government.We took our oath and affirmation to the Queen, Her Heirs and Successors. So I don't serve you and I don't serve Tony B, David “Web” Cameron or anybody else, but the Crown. We are often used and misused by the government and indeed by the public who have an axe to grind, but we serve the Crown.

    We enforce the law, even when we don't believe in it, which we often might not, but which is made by the politicians that you and I elect however. And in case the “I pay your wages” line comes out, bloody hell you want to see the amount of tax I pay!! Even though I am childless, lawful, fully employed and very healthy, I pay taxes so that people's screaming brats can go to school, smokers can get their lungs and legs removed, criminals go to prison on my wages and the feckless can sit and watch Jeremy Kyle all day. I don't resent it (well not all of it) but it's just the way it is.

    I agree with you about spin and lies, but please don't make frustrations about policing an anti-police thing – we are mostly just like you.

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