I am sure like me you have been stunned by how our world has been upended by the events in the Ukraine. I know there has been considerable empathy for the bravery of the Ukrainian people and people are keen to help. We are advising people to contribute to recognised charities as a means of helping.
If events have shown us anything then it is how much democracy and freedom and the institutions that flow from this are valued by people who are new to this. They are literally fighting for the very things we can be complacent and sometimes even cynical about. I suspect we all ought to appreciate the democratic institutions we have, that are a cut above what we see in other parts of the world.
The last week has seen two important reports on policing. The first was the Police Foundation’s Strategic Review of Policing by Sir Michael Barber and the second was the Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s State of Policing report. I share these as I am well aware that for those of you in operational roles in the frontline of policing it’s harder to see the total context of what is happening. The challenge of resource stretched across an increasing mission is actually a national issue and some areas need national solutions. The Barber review in particular was a stark reminder of what the impact of policing policy without police involvement has been. In so many ways the report suggests bringing back things like a leadership centre, a police improvement agency, a senior appointments body, police-led misconduct hearings that policing had in 2010 before they were abolished. Things that should never have gone! Do have a read of both.
Many of you will have heard about the “Barriers to Bridges” project we have run in Coventry as part of the City of Culture programme. Using an artist in residence we have explored the experiences and relationships between young black and Asian people and the police. I took part in this work and have been quite moved by things I have learned and reflected upon. One part of the work explored a young woman’s trauma following the police raiding her home in connection with another family member. At the exhibition launch I met her mum. Mum is still traumatised by the day and told me the daily impact this has on her. It took huge courage for her to come to the event and meet police officers.
Policing is a messy business and our lawful and well-intended actions can have a collateral impact on so many people. It has made me think that we need to be ever more attentive to explaining why we do things; often after things have calmed down. We can cause real trauma. We will do further work on our policy and process but I think as we enter homes searching for subjects and evidence we need to be ever more attentive to those people sat on the sofa watching us.
Finally, last week I attended the Pride of Birmingham Awards where PC Mat Evans won the emergency service category for his courageous actions detaining a man with a knife after a stabbing in London whilst off duty. This week we also saw DC Mark Bates recognised for similar courage. It is great to see positive news in the headlines after a number of weeks where the attention has been on those who let policing down. We all know that whilst Mat and Mark have done exceptional work they are typical of what we see on display every day in policing.
Keep up the good work.