Monday, 17 September 2007

Police blogger revealed

The identity of a police constable whose internet
diaries lifted the lid on modern-day policing has been revealed for the
first time by the BBC.

Stuart Davidson risked dismissal from his job to write The Policeman's Blog.

He has told BBC One's Panorama that officers were often
stuck doing paperwork and chasing targets, and not out arresting

Police and government officials say they accept there is too much bureaucracy involved in the job.

Not even the 36-year-old's closest colleagues knew he
was responsible for the blog, which was written under the pen-name of
PC David Copperfield and has received over one million hits since he
started it.

'Waste of time'

In his blog Mr Davidson outlined the "madness" of his
target-driven duties in a place he called Newtown, which he has now
disclosed was Burton-on-Trent.

Speaking openly for the first time, he told Panorama he was frustrated with bureaucracy and paperwork.

"The public think that we solve burglaries, the public
think that we're actually on patrol accosting thieves and people who
are up to no good," he said.

"But what we actually do is attempt to meet government statistics by solving trivial crime."

Staffordshire police said analysis showed officers spent
62% of their time out of the station, but it accepted they have to deal
with too much bureaucracy and they're working to change it.

Mr Davidson, who received two commendations during his
four years in the force, said about 80% of what he did "was a waste of

"I thought nobody else can be doing things that are so insane," he said.

"But it transpires that there are thousands and
thousands of other police officers out there doing exactly the same
kinds of things

Quitting force

"It depends on the nature of the offence of course, but
you arrest somebody and it'll take you the rest of the shift - say
eight to 10 hours - to deal with that if it's even remotely

Mr Davidson said he was sometimes tempted not to make an arrest because processing it would mean so much time off the street.

He is quitting the force in Britain to join the police in Canada.

Panorama filmed with Mr Davidson over six months, including his last days on the force.

It also spoke to other officers up and down the country
who feel their job is being undermined. They said they believed the
very foundation of police work - that of preventing crime - is being

And all of them spoke of their frustration at the sheer volume of paperwork.

"We are never there on the streets to provide
reassurance, to provide a deterrent and to prevent people from becoming
a victim of crime," a former officer told the programme.

Many of their concerns were supported by the Chief
Inspectorate of Policing's interim review into policing in England and
Wales, which was published last week.

The views are also echoed in responses to a
questionnaire distributed to 2,000 beat officers across the country by
the Police Federation, which represents 140,000 officers.

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie
Flanagan, said police officers in England and Wales are bogged down in
red tape and "excess bureaucracy" must be cut to free up police time.


Mr Davidson's blog was dismissed last year by Tony McNulty, Minister for Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing.

But Mr McNulty told Panorama that he had shifted his
position and, while he did not concede everything that Copperfield said
was true, things could be improved for officers.

He also said that, while targets are crucial for
accountability and measuring performance, they should not get in the
way of officers doing their job effectively.

"I want there to be accountability, I want there to be a
robust performance framework... but I do not want that getting in the
way of effective policing and crucially restoring some discretion to
the frontline".

Panorama's Wasting Police Time will be broadcast on BBC One on Monday September 17 at 2030 BST.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: