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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Police blogger revealed
Stuart Davidson (pic: Monday Books)
Mr Davidson is quitting the British force to join the police in Canada
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, from Staffordshire, risked dismissal from his job to write The Policeman's Blog.

He has told BBC One's Panorama officers were often doing paperwork and chasing targets instead of arresting criminals.

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.

As a uniformed officer available for deployment, I would spend over half of my time writing in the office
Stuart Davidson

"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 time".

"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 complicated."

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 undermined.

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.

Constable Stuart Davidson wrote his book anonymously

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