Policing fights short battles not long wars. I said this in a message a few months ago when talking about COVID. The rush of the March emergency has lapsed into a weariness across society.
I am sure, like me, you are feeling quite tired of the restrictions we are all living with especially as we go in to autumn. A greyer period in the seasons, and probably in life, this year it is vital as a service we are there for the public. So:
COVID is not the only issue we are facing and I wanted to flag up some highlights for me over the last few weeks:
Your Voice Matters. Our staff survey is out. Its quick to do and it is so important. It really does help me to get your feedback and we got so much out of last year. I know we are busy but helping improve WMP is an important part of your role.
We saw ACC Chris Johnson retire. Chris has been a real inspiration. Many of you have worked with Chris over the years. He is a lovely guy and his illness has not defined Chris’s career. It has however more clearly defined the man Chris is. He has reshaped how many of us see disability. He has made senior leaders seem more human. He has shown huge determination and I was so proud the last of his MND 5,000 steps were as he left Lloyd House. Thank you for the support and love you have shown Chris and his family. It has said so much about our amazing force.
We also saw Sgt Neata Simpson win the Public Service Asian Women of Achievements Award. This is an amazing result. I was also proud to see Paul Newman and Holly Necchi as our nominees for the Police Federation Bravery Award in a week that was a sobering reminder of the dangers of policing.
We were able to share an update on Chris Burnham now back at work in Coventry and Gaz Phillips who was able to return to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to offer his thanks.
We saw the horrific murder of Sgt Matiu Ratana in London. Last Sunday week was also the National Police Memorial Day held virtually this year where Special Constable Resham Singh Nahal from West Midlands Police joined the national role of honour. Resh’s name is now on the memorial board at Lloyd House and as soon as we can do we will honour his inscription there with his family.
Policing is service and sacrifice.
It is inspiring to see new officers coming forward to take up the office. So far this calendar year we have recruited 793 new officers, by April this will mean that with retirements and transfers we will see a net increase of over 500 officers. There are still many more officers to recruit this year to hit our recruitment targets.
It is great news.
I am very aware lots of new people means lots of tutoring and this is a pressure but in 2021 we are going to feel the benefits of these officers.
As members of WMP you are so critical to recruiting officers. A few weeks ago I was with an officer dealing with an accident (they were dealing I was trying to remember what to do). A young man helped calm down a potential confrontation between the people involved. I was really impressed and I told him he would be a great cop. He admitted he had thought about it but never thought he would make it. I took his details and passed them on. Be under no illusions when you encourage people to try and join, particularly those from underrepresented groups who may not know anyone in the police it really works!
The force is seeing some serious and violent incidents. There is both proactive and reactive work to tackle these but I am aware many of our investigation teams in PPU, FCID, Forensics as well as Criminal Justice Department are feeling the pressure.
We have cases delayed because of court restrictions. We are juggling video remand hearings and forensic exhibits. We’re keeping victims and witnesses reassured and picking up new demands.
The next few months will require us all to think hard how we can support these teams. Their success in catching offenders is creating some of these pressures! I am grateful for the dedication we see from all our investigators.
Finally 2021 is the year we bring in Connect. It is a good time to start looking at our Connect site so you are aware of what is coming. This is particularly so for leaders. Too often we see a technology change as something we need to prepare those we lead for. Connect will change how you work and Business Insights should already be changing how you lead.
We need Digital Leaders not Analogue Supervisors. We will of course help get you ready but looking and learning yourself is vital.