My September challenge is to try and ensure in exceptional times West Midlands Police does not lose a year in making progress on our vision of preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need through the “This work matters” strategy.
Some of you may admire my optimism given the challenges we are dealing with so let us start there!
The need to dial up our work on COVID restrictions is now very pressing given the global and local upturn in infections. This time of course there is no lockdown and we are very busy with normal demand. The good news is the multi-agency team in each local area is on a better footing. We have a much better picture on where infection risk is highest, though the quality of this is reliant on testing information.
We have been very successful under Operation Reliant on dealing with large gatherings. We are now trying to focus on gatherings of six and facemasks in key areas like public transport. When you are out and about please challenge and use the 4E’s...
Next week I am having a week at home. I am not going on holiday but the break is really welcomed. The last few months have been demanding. I suspect I am not alone in feeling a little tired. I hope you are taking some time off across the summer as you deserve a break. Sadly it will not be a holiday this year for most of us.
March seems a lifetime ago. We began with huge staff absences as people self-isolated. The lockdown was keenly followed by the public and as staff came back we were very proactive during Operation Inglenook tackling drug dealers and gangs. We moved from this stage into the George Floyd related protests and some very real challenges to police legitimacy and race at a time of considerable pressure. Demands for police service started to return alongside the significant uplift in domestic abuse and harassment.
The public followed the lockdown better than any of us could have imagined. Today communities are tired of the restrictions and feeling the impact. I have always said the public will...
I start this week’s blog with a very heavy heart. I was devastated that on the 26th June, Special Constable Resham Singh Nahal died at his home. Resham was at home after suffering life changing injuries from an RTC when on duty last year. I spoke to Resham on the Monday on the week of his death and we discussed how he could continue as a special and how he was recovering. He was an honourable officer and a man of great faith. A post mortem will determine if his death relates to his injury but the force will honour his service when his funeral can take place.
Resham, on the left, at Pride 2017
As you probably saw I had a short bathe in one of Birmingham’s canals last week. It was a neither heroic or dignified and I am grateful to PCSOs and officers from Ladywood NHT who carried out the rescue. It was a side story in three terrific arrest by the team.
These great arrests and the difference we make in communities are the reasons why I am so proud of what we do. It is also important to remember lots of what we do...
After three weeks of protests and discussions following George Floyd’s death and the relaxation of lockdown rules I want to recap on where I believe we are and the next steps.
I indicated a few weeks back that a combination of tensions on race, easing of lockdown and the pressure on young people coupled with the return of normal business would create a challenging summer for us. After several weeks of protests we are now dealing, through Operation Reliant, with impromptu raves, a return of vehicle cruises this week and continuing gang related tensions. The demands are unlikely to ease and there will be additional pressures posed when licensed premises open in July.
I think this is a very difficult context for us all trying hard to do our job. The response has been outstanding from the force.
I do however suspect many of you are concerned over the challenges of using powers in this context. I want to reinforce that I support you in the work you do. Policing is difficult, messy and complex and I...
I am a black female Police Officer of African-Caribbean descent, currently serving with the West Midlands Police. I speak because I am overwhelmed by the social structures that seek to erode the essence of who and what I am. I am wearied by the social statements and conversations that seek to minimise my contributions to the noble profession of policing and my personal sacrifices to see a cohesive and acceptable level of organisational justice, quality of service delivery and engagement with black communities.
I am often forced to remind myself that I walk the great policing beat for miles and miles with African feet! Policing does not separate me from my black origin or the pain of my community.
PC Andrea Reynolds
Rolling forward towards the end of a policing career, that has seen the impact of historic events and decisions seep negatively into the heart of all communities. These decisions have shouted subliminal messages. Messages that...
This weekend saw extraordinary scenes in the USA. As men set off for space riots broke out across American cities. It has a striking symmetry to the tensions in America on the day in 1969 when Apollo 11 set off for the moon as Black Americans protested about racial injustice. Views captured by the famous poem of the time by Gil Scott Heron. It is depressing so little has changed.
In August 2014 I wrote a blog for you about watching America respond to a series of black men die in incidents with the police whilst I was on holiday in the US.
The death of George Floyd was quite simply shocking and a horrific act by someone who is meant to uphold the law. It had no place in policing and a former officer has been charged with murder.
Over the years I have much contact with US policing. It is so very different to what we have in the UK. There is no national approach. Specifically no common approach to the use of force. The best effort was one produced by the Police Foundation (a charity) and based on our UK...
Wednesday 13 May saw COVID regulations change what is permissible as part of the government’s easing of the lockdown.
Let’s all start by acknowledging this is a tricky ask. The government needs to contain the infection rate, allow a reasonable level of easing and start up the economy. Quite hard.
Before we get to the changes to the restrictions we need to recognise:
The lockdown has been very successful in achieving the aim of reducing infections. This is to the great credit of the public and to British Policing who have helped keep this on track. Well done. We have managed to be sensible and proportionate in our approach.
It has been so successful it has created some caution about returning to work. Starting up is harder than slowing down!
We geared up for a significant rise in hospitalisation and deaths. The news has been grim but the peak has not matched our worst fears. We now have capacity built and ready if events turn. A thank-you to everyone who has got us ready.
Last week we marvelled at the British public, often reserved yet always showing their thanks for the big moments, come out for a huge round of applause for the amazing nurses, doctors, ambulance staff and indeed all the staff of the NHS. I would include social care staff too who are doing an amazing job.
You will have felt some of that love in the rainbow pictures, sandwiches and thanks from the public we have received too. We need to keep that love coming as we have some tough weeks ahead. Thank you for this card from Joshua on behalf of St Edmund Campion.
I say this because last week we set about encouraging people to follow guidance and enforcing some the most restrictive laws we have seen in our nation. We are doing this because of an emergency and our need to save lives and protect the NHS by stopping the infection rate. The purpose is more important that the powers.
You will have noticed the powers don’t quite cover all the government’s advice. The government has issued quite a lot of advice on social distancing but only a...
At each stage of my messages to you I have tried to ensure we prepare for the next stage.
As events have shown this is moving quickly. Events in Italy feel more proximate. More people will be ill and more are going to die. This is going to be the toughest moment of our careers in policing.
So where are we?
An increasing proportion of the force is self-isolating or confined to home with underlying conditions. Some have sick family. We will be offering more guidance on asthma and diabetes as staff only need to be at home in serious cases. We have seen the NHS advice for staff in direct contact with COVID19 so some people with mild asthma and diabetes will be as safe as the rest of us at work.
The workplace is looking more controlled with new tidy habits. Keep it clean. Look after PPE. As you can see this is precious.
The major incident structures are up and running. We have done some refocusing on services and there will be more of this. Our absence levels will grow when more people become ill...
A great deal has happened since my last message. I think a great deal more may happen and I want to use this blog to prepare ourselves.
I cannot emphasise enough on the need for workplace hygiene. Washing hands properly, every two hours. Clean desks and workspaces. I have asked Commanders and Heads of Department to do captain’s rounds! If you do not have cleaning materials, tell them. This is everyone’s job.
PPE has been issued. We have good stocks compared to other sectors but we cannot be sure when we can replenish. You must use gel, gloves and face masks wisely. Keep clothing and vehicles clean.
We are tracking staff who are off work through sickness, self-isolation or social distancing. The numbers have increased. Occupational Health can advise on whether staff fall into these criteria. If you do you MUST go home and social distance. It is not a choice. Leaders can take advice from Occupational Health as conditions such as asthma can be very wide and not everyone falls into this group.