with apologies for the lack of updates (been working hard noting the blogs plus been away for a week), I've now drawn a line under the data collection side of things.
In total 82 blogs were looked at. An additional 31 were noted to be shut down and 5 are now private. A few stand out initially - one is not anonymous (Inspector Guilfoyle) and the Coppersblog, noted by many to be the original one, is the most popular with other police bloggers, being on 48 blogrolls (albeit it is now one of the private ones).
As stated previously, the motivations are many and varied. Inspector Guilfoyle's in particular seems to be aimed at the education of the public/fellow police as he spends some time explaining statistics and target-setting; both the advantages and disadvantages. In common with many of the bloggers he is against targets, but adopts this alternative method of putting his point forward.
Interestingly, there does not seem to be a great amount of conscious information transfer as motivation. The bloggers do not appear to be passing on their experiences for the purposes of helping each other but rather simply as story-telling or catharsis. When asked if they would ask for information or help via the blog, one reader/commentator advised that they would not, preferring to go to personal contacts. The internet was too public.
On the other hand some help is sometimes requested/given on non specific things like the set-up of the blog itself and general advice on dealing with emotional fallout. It is not possible to tell whether the stories told ever help other police in how they tackle similar circumstances but the posts do not appear to be written from that point of view - being descriptive rather than proscriptive.
Another restriction on the stories told is the requirement not only to disguise the facts to avoid identification but also to prevent breaking the law by talking about a case before it has gone to court. Within these parameters however the process of storytelling seems to help the blogger in a great many cases, providing a platform for opinions and stress-relief.
A different motivation is to be controversial and stimulate debate. Many bloggers will record their own opinion on a topic (often police-related) and ask for others, or simply put it up and wait for the comments. This approach, exemplified by Inspector Gadget or The Thinking Policeman, relies on the blog being well-read.