Women on the police front line

The wonderfully sardonic Sgt. Ellie Bloggs takes time out from her response role to tell Telegraph readers what it's like on the police front line when you're a woman officer:

Before I can grab my baton or pava spray, he has got me by the shoulders of my stab vest. I brace my arms against his. We spin, nose to nose against a shop frontage. The audience of kebab-eaters shuffles its feet. Ten years in the police, and suddenly this. How is this going to end?
Go read the whole thing.

Bloggs points out how far women in front line police roles have come in her ten years on the force, and how the fatal shootings of female PCs Bone and Hughes in Manchester (and before that, Sharon Beshenivskiy and Teresa Milburn being respectively killed and wounded in Bradford) have reflected the increasing female presence on the front line. She doesn't think the physical size differences are that important:

We are there to control, not to fight. Control is best achieved calmly, with numbers on your side.
Which is why, pinned to a shop window by a slathering drunk, things are not exactly going to plan.
For me, one of Bloggs's most telling remarks is that she is actually surprised when her PAVA incapacitant spray actually has an effect on a drunken opponent. It sounds as if the police could do with something considerably more potent instead. Unlike her colleague Inspector Gadget she's not a fan of arming all front line police officers, although she does think they need more firearms presence than they currently have. I'd agree with her assessment that there are plenty of good police officers who would be more dangerous to the public and themselves if they carried a firearm - it's not for everyone.

While we're talking about the police, how about Bloggs's kebab-eating audience? Why weren't they intervening to prevent a large thug from beating up a police officer? This 2010 BBC article on bystander intervention suggested that people were still prepared to intervene in violent situations; you would hope that they would be more willing to aid a female police officer since a) you're far less likely to get falsely accused of assault when a police officer is your witness and b) a large man is assaulting a smaller woman.

If you haven't already read Bloggs's Diary of an On-call Girl then run, don't walk (better yet, HTTP) to your nearest bookstore.

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