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Police: Tense

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Policing Future

Much talk at the moment about the future of policing.

Amongst the headlines and proposals:

  • New recruitment processes
  • New entry routes (three of them – and much animated talk about degrees)
  • New approaches to assessment and professional development
  • New role profiles
  • New Licences to Practice
  • New ideas about pay and reward – including the introduction of Accredited Practitioners
  • New submissions to the Pay Review Body

And then there are the ever-new challenges of technology, of cross border criminality, of international terrorism – and of the complete unknown. All the while, police officers of the immediate future will be expected to deal with the long term costs to society of short term cuts to frontline services.

But there is a danger that all this talk of ‘policing future’ sidelines the very pressing concerns of ‘policing present’.

Policing Present

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating:

  • Crime is rising – particularly crime of the most serious kinds
  • Demand is rising – not least as a consequence of the gaping holes that have...

    Continues, Read More...


Police: The Violence Disease

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Just over 11 years ago, in March 2007, I stood quietly on Hammersmith Grove in West London. I was dressed in full police uniform.

It was a beautiful spring morning and we had just closed the local roads to allow the friends and family of an innocent young boy to come and pay their respects at the scene of his killing. His name was Kodjo Yenga and, though I had never had the privilege of meeting him, I will never forget him.

I stood at a respectful distance and watched, as crowds began to gather at the place where the flowers were laid and the grief graffiti covered the walls and pavement. And I listened as the wailing and the hymn-singing began, cries of deepest despair and defiant hope filling the air.

images

There are places and moments that you never forget.

In the years that followed, I found myself standing in far too many of the haunted places, where young men had lost their lives to unfathomable violence.

And still it goes on.

And I find that I cannot sit silently as the madness of history continues to repeat itself.

If we want anything to...

Continues, Read More...



Police: A Message for the new Home Secretary

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Dear Home Secretary,

I suspect that this is a heck of a time to be taking on what must be a heck of a job.

But if one lesson has stood out in recent days, it’s a reminder of that most basic truth: people always matter more than numbers. 

Infinitely more.

And, as you start in your new role, I wanted to make a handful of observations about the people who are policing.

An Extraordinary Job

Policing is an extraordinary job. 

People call it ‘a job like no other’. Police Officers call it simply ‘The Job’. For more than 25 years – until I retired at the end of February this year – it was my breathtaking privilege to stand on the thin blue line. 

My duty & my joy.

Because, when you strip away all that really isn’t important, the job is to:

  • Save lives
  • Find the lost
  • Comfort those who are grieving and broken
  • Reassure those who are afraid
  • Protect the vulnerable
  • Confront the dangerous
  • Sometimes… to risk it all

Pause and think about it for a moment: these are the things that we ask and expect of our police officers. And I...

Continues, Read More...



Police: We Need to Talk about Policing

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

When I was still at school, I decided that I wanted to be a police officer. I couldn’t tell you why exactly, but it had something to do with the adventure of it all. That, and the fact it seemed to be a line of work that mattered. Ask most Coppers why they joined and they will tell you, simply, that they wanted to make a difference.

It was a heart thing for me.

It still is.

Because, when you strip away all the noise and the nonsense, it remains about as remarkable – and important – as a job can be.

Yesterday was my first day back in the real world after two happy weeks away with my family. And I woke to news of two more fatal stabbings in London. They happened within 40 minutes of one other – in two completely different parts of the Capital. Then I opened my emails to news of two more of my former police colleagues breaking under the strain. Now off sick and in urgent need of assistance.

And it struck me that these things are not somehow remote or distant. They are here and now, close to home. These are the stories of the lives –...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Stuff I Got Wrong

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Retirement takes a bit of getting used to. But it certainly allows some time and space to think. Precious time. Time that can otherwise be hard to find in a world that is moving far faster than is good for any of us.

And so I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about some of the things I got wrong over the course of my policing career. The sorts of things we’re not always very good at talking about.

Here are a handful of them – some from when I started out and some that are much more recent.

I.     Learning the Hard Way

I worked damn hard when I started out as a PC. That was a good thing. Less good was my response to the realisation that I didn’t have it all worked out from the start; that my policing life was only just beginning; that I didn’t actually know much about anything.

You see, I was desperate to do well. So desperate in fact, that when I didn’t get things perfectly right first time round – and when kind and far more experienced colleagues pointed out the inevitable errors of my ways – it felt like a particularly painful kind...

Continues, Read More...



Police: A Retirement Speech

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

This speech comes a little earlier than planned.

But life happened – and today is my last as a serving police officer.

I wanted to write a handful of parting words to four particular groups of people: the public we serve, the press who observe, the politicians who govern and the police officers & staff who I have worked alongside for more than twenty-five years.

I.     The Public

Sir Robert Peel had it right from the very beginning: you are us and we are you. You are the reason why we do what we do.

Ask most Coppers why they joined and they will tell you simply that they wanted to make a difference: for communities, for families, for victims, for the vulnerable, for those struggling souls stumbling through the very worst days of their lives.

It was never about money or power or fame. It was for the adventure and for the painful privilege of venturing into the hurting places.

And I want you to know that, in spite of our very evident imperfections, the vast majority of the men and women I’ve been privileged to work with down the years are just...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Silver Linings

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

The best laid plans and all that. 

Earlier today, I was given a date for Medical Retirement from the Metropolitan Police. My last day as a serving officer will be Wednesday 28th February 2018. 

That wasn’t how it was supposed to be. 

I joined the Met in September 1992 – a clueless 22 year old embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Over the years, I fell hopelessly in love with the Job. And with the men and women who do it. Like most of my generation, I fully intended to see out each one of my 30 years. Perhaps longer. I even had a half-baked idea that I might try to make it to Chief Constable one day.

Then life happened. 

In April 2013, at the age of 43, I broke. I was off work for more than 7 months – a once capable man reduced entirely to rubble. Almost five years later, I’m a whole lot better than I was, but I realise that I’ve done myself some permanent damage along the way. I’m no longer strong enough to deal with the exhaustion and the strain. I can no longer manage the inevitable stress. And I appear to be completely unable to...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Stories & Statistics

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I opened my emails this morning to find a message about another colleague breaking under the strain. Now off sick with depression and stress.

Stories like that seem much more frequent these days.

And it troubles me.

Then to the day’s news reports and the publication of the latest set of crime figures. According to the ONS, recorded crime in England & Wales rose by 14% in the year to September 2017. The following headlines were amongst the most concerning:

·       Violent Crime – up 20%

·       Knife Crime – up 21%

·       Sex Offences – up 23%

·       Robbery – up 29%

Over the course of more than 25 years in policing, I’ve developed something of a cautious approach to crime stats – lies, damned lies and all that. And there are those who will point, with some justification, to differences apparent in the findings of the British Crime Survey.

But, it’s increasingly difficult to turn aside from a set of headlines that looks something like this:

·       Crime is rising. (At the very least,...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Looking After the Thin Blue Line

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

There seems to be lots of talk in policing at the moment about something called ‘wellbeing’.

I’m no expert, but these are my ten thoughts on the subject.

(1) It’s People, Stupid

  • The fact that more of us are talking about the physical, emotional and psychological health of police officers and staff is a good thing. A very good thing.
  • But it must never become just another management soundbite – another thing to measure and another box to tick
  • This is about people – and it simply doesn’t get any more important than that.

(2) We need to understand policing better – operationally

  • Put quite simply, this is one heck of a job.
  • The things that become normal in this line of work would be entirely extraordinary in almost every other walk if life.
  • Do we recognise and understand the inevitable wear and tear officers and staff experience over the course of a policing lifetime – and the consequences this can have for their physical and mental health?
  • In particular, do we recognise and understand the cumulative consequences for...

    Continues, Read More...


Police: Dear Daily Mail

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

This is a short note to the people who work at the Daily Mail.

A couple of personal facts by way of introduction:

For more than twenty-five years, I have served as an officer with the Metropolitan Police. And I am incredibly proud of that fact. It has been – and it remains – my duty and my joy.

For the past four years and eight months, I have taken anti-depressant medication at the start of every day. And I am not remotely ashamed of that fact. It’s a part of who I am.

I don’t read your newspaper, but it’s been difficult to avoid your front pages in recent days. It’s apparent that you don’t think much of people like me: people who stand on thin blue lines; people who might need a helping hand to get through the day.

So I wanted to say a handful of things by way of a response. Starting with the job I do.

Policing is entirely imperfect. Individually and collectively, we get things wrong every single day – sometimes devastatingly so. But I work with heroes.

I work with people who save lives.

I work with people who don’t hesitate when...

Continues, Read More...





Latest Policecommander Stories

Tense
The Violence Disease
A Message for the new Home Secretary
We Need to Talk about Policing
Stuff I Got Wrong

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