In the first of a series of guest posts, fellow command team member ACC Carl Foulkes has taken over the reins of DCC Thompson’s blog as he talks about the role he plays in WMP 2020, his wider portfolio and the tragic death of PC David Phillips in Merseyside.
If you have comments on the guest blog, don’t forget you can leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the post.
Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes
I am sure a number of you logging onto what has historically been the DCC’s blog will be surprised to find my ramblings. Don’t worry – the DCC will be back but as a Command Team we thought you may want to hear another perspective of what’s currently affecting WMP. I won the honour as the first post-DCC blogger due to my vast experience (two previous cycle blogs) so please bear with me…
I want to start by reflecting on the sad death of PC David Phillips in Merseyside. The term police family is often used but what is clear is the death of this officer, husband and father while he was simply doing his job has once again demonstrated to the country the difficult and dangerous job all officers do. My heart goes out to PC Phillips’s family, friends and Merseyside colleagues as they go through what will be a difficult time.
Turning to matters closer to home the DCC in his blog often speaks about the 2020 program. As one of the ACCs I have a different role to him in the program in that I’m responsible – through some talented people – for a number of workstreams which form the totality of all the work. One of my first workstreams to come to fruition is Body Worn Video (or BWV as we will inevitably shorten it to). As the territorial lead for Wolverhampton, I’ve been really lucky watching the BWV pilot gain traction and acceptance from those using and deploying the equipment – a journey replicated on Birmingham South. This work has subsequently developed into a detailed business case and we’re now at the point where we will go out to market for a supplier. I now know more than is healthy about cloud-based storage, camera resolution and storage capacity but I am genuinely excited that we will introduce equipment, storage and retention which will be at the forefront of British policing.
I also know, having gone out on patrol with one of the Wolverhampton response teams recently, how much of an opportunity that technology will bring you. It’s clearly not the answer to everything but I could see from the questions I’ve been asked about it how keen colleagues are to embrace changes to the historic way we have previously carried out our work and in doing so become more efficient and effective.
As ACCs we also hold national portfolios which support the development of policing in areas as wide ranging as criminal justice to roads policing. Recently I’ve taken over the national lead from CC Steve Kavanagh for open source, in effect intelligence which is collected from publicly available sources. I must admit my son’s reaction when he found out really boosted my ego, his first comment of “Why you” was followed by “Was there no-one else?”
Having taken over the portfolio I was lucky enough to attend the national conference in September with colleagues from around the country and the West Midlands. I’ve always considered myself to be relatively aware of the latest developments in technology, social media and the impact of the digital age on policing but I was genuinely blown away by the thinking in the room, both around the ‘here and now’ challenges and those that are likely to continue to develop as so much of the real world moves into the virtual. Nationally we are starting to align all the elements to develop our capacity in the digital environment including my work on open source, DMIs, cyber crime etc as there are clear cross overs and I know these issues and opportunities will be felt ever more in force and we must have the infrastructure, understanding and skill set to tackle current and new crime trends, be that online frauds, accessing mobile devices or offering advice to the most vulnerable.
Hopefully at least some of you have stayed with me and there is not too much pining for the return of the DCC but I just wanted to say a huge thank you for those who policed the recent Villa V Blues game. I was the Gold for the match and I know how challenging this operation was and while there was some feedback regarding the approach we adopted from supporters and traders you all did a great job to protect the public and prevent serious disorder. This was a real force team effort with public order officers, investigators, Corporate Comms, Intelligence, Roads Policing etc. all pulling together for what was the biggest deployment of staff to a football game that we have had in recent years.