The last week has been one where the costs of policing and the sacrifice of officers and staff have been set out.
On Wednesday I attended the dedication ceremony of the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. After seven years of fundraising and planning, the new memorial has exceeded the expectations any of us could have. The new memorial is a doorway representing a threshold to a different space and the dangerous places where the police go. It stands tall across the arboretum as a place of focus; policing standing tall and taking its place in such a special places of memory. I strongly recommend you visit it.
Sadly the day was a painful one for families. I introduced families from the West Midlands, West Mercia and West Yorkshire to the Prince of Wales. They talked about the impact on them of the day and their loss. The pain remains no matter how many years have passed. I am so grateful to the many staff from the force and our Comms Department who helped make the day special.
Last week I had a few days away from work and I hope some of you have been able to have some time off during half term. The pace of life is returning and the force is very busy. I know we are working very hard at a time when the chances of a holiday overseas are again receding. I cannot thank you enough for your work.
Having time away from work is important and I do recognise taking time off when you want it is vital, but is actually quite tough at the moment. As an Executive Team we discussed this two weeks ago. We think it’s very important people take leave and will track more carefully when people have leave refused a number of times. We will also be operating extended leave carry over for the next two years. More news to follow.
The last few weeks have seen some tragic events. None more so than the murder of Dea-John Reid. Many of us will have been shattered by the words and emotions of his mother, brother and the rest of his family. Their dignity and leadership in the community have stood out. We cannot put this right but the force has let...
Despite the temperatures and the rain this weekend summer is on the way!
First up: Commonwealth Games leave restrictions. I’m well aware restrictions are never popular after what could be two years without a proper summer holiday. I’m sorry we’ve had to do this and I understand the impact this may have on you and your families. It’s why we wanted to tell you about the restrictions more than a year in advance.
The games are a huge operation for the force. The event is going to be exciting and a fantastic time for policing in the region. I want to assure everyone that we will do all we can to be flexible on leave around these dates as the plans develop. We will keep you updated.
The progress on lifting restrictions and ending our responsibilities under COVID legislation will be welcomed by all of us as police and private citizens. However, I don’t think this is the end of the COVID related challenges.
Having watched the disorders in Europe and the extraordinary scenes in Manchester at the weekend, there is a...
The number at the top of this blog may strike you as a little odd.
This is the number of files the force has moved from its legacy computer systems into Connect. Pieces of data from various systems that we had to pick up and transfer into our new operating system in a way we can access and use them. Ever tried to transfer the address book from one phone to another? Not easy, and you can see why this has been such a huge project. Technology is a little bit like an iceberg; those of us using the system only see the tip and not the huge complexity below the waterline.
I make these points as this last week has been a seismic change for West Midlands Police. We have never before had a fully integrated operational policing system. Over the years, we have grafted pieces together with loose ends and compromises. With so many systems involved, some would age and become sick and replacement was not a choice. Some systems were at end of life. Today, the force has the UK’s most modern operational system.
Looking back even fourteen months ago, it is hard to imagine we would ever see the events of 2020. Our world has changed so much.
For some this has been a dreadful year of tragedy. We mourn those we have lost within our own West Midlands Police family and today think of those who have died in our communities. We are looking forward to enjoying a brighter future that sees us meeting up with family and friends again.
This year has also been inspiring in so many ways. The miracle of science that has created the vaccination programme, the tireless work of NHS staff and those in care homes. Acts of kindness across communities.
Our own work has been outstanding. The preparation for mass fatalities saw us work with partners to create the largest temporary mortuary in the country from scratch. The work of our community deaths teams earlier in the year was remarkable. The quality of coordination with partners and, of course, the tireless work of all of you in enforcing the COVID...
The tragic murder of Sarah Everard this week has had a seismic impact on society and policing. The circumstances of her death and the occupation of the man charged with her murder has stunned all of us.
There are so many issues from this case but I want to discuss the two most pressing.
The events on Clapham Common have brought into sharp focus the difficulties of balancing freedom to assemble and protest with the substantial restrictions that have been passed by Parliament to manage the public health crisis.
The police cannot work with organisers to facilitate a gathering that is unlawful under the COVID legislation; it would be a serious breach of our role. I believe people who feel the police should have done this at the weekend are wrong. The rules have varied during the pandemic but are very clear and parliament has restricted gatherings to prevent infections of COVID.
You will see we advised local groups we could not do this which led to events being cancelled in...
One of the areas we have talked about in the “This Work Matters” strategy is Precision Policing. We want to develop this concept to blend evidence based policing, our data capability with our need to be efficient in using resources and ensure communities are policed fairly. This requires us to be smart in understanding problems, setting objectives and ensuring resources are used well.
I mention this as I was thinking about this as I reached the final leg of my Connect Learning Journey this week and looked at the new Proactive Management Plans (PMP). Connect is critical to Precision Policing.
Yes – I have a Connect training journey of 19 lessons and around 8 hours! Connect is a huge change for WMP and everyone needs to understand it. This is critical for leaders. Some of you may have heard me say we need digital leaders not analogue managers. Leaders have core roles in Connect, but also need to understand how to exploit it to improve our policing and help all staff with new ways of working.
Last week I found myself at home self-isolating after testing positive for COVID. I am fortunate my symptoms were very mild at what remains a tragic and troubling time and am glad to be back at work.
On Monday night we were all touched by the bravery of Keon Lincoln’s mum and sister as they led our appeal for help as we continue the investigation into his murder. We are committed to helping them secure justice.
Serious youth violence is not new. Last week we saw four young men sent to prison for the ferociously violent murder of Keelan Wilson in Wolverhampton in 2018. We have seen some awful crimes in Coventry, Birmingham and across our region and the country involving children and adolescents.
Murders have been committed following the slightest dispute. The level of violence in many cases has been extreme. The lack of any consideration of the...
I am writing this blog on the 7th January and it is already an extraordinary start to the year.
January is in some ways a little bit of a blue month after the excesses of Christmas and as the days are their darkest. We have lacked excess this year and the dramatic swing in infections from COVID is sobering. I think we can all agree we are entering a very difficult few weeks now with the new strain of the disease.
This comes at the very moment vaccinations emerged and so the hope of an end has been dampened by the sense of a punishing few months ahead.
A few thoughts from me:
On New Year’s Eve I joined OSU staff on Operation Reliance and saw first-hand what I would describe as the hard grind of COVID enforcement. It is tough relentlessly dealing with people who don’t see why they need to follow the rules. I was deeply concerned by some of the parties I saw and the health risk they create, specifically to us. I am supportive of the need for government to consider public facing roles in policing for early...
Last week the Chancellor announced a one year spending review. Governments generally like to set out their spending plans over a four year period. We have not been in this position now for just over three years which makes planning quite challenging. The COVID health and economic emergency and the Brexit deal make longer term planning quite hard.
The main headline you may have noticed was the pay freeze which will affect all staff earning more than £24K. I know how incredibly hard you have been working this year as part of the COVID emergency. I do recognise this has been a health-led emergency and how health service staff are rewarded is important. Carving out groups is difficult and divisive. A pay freeze is a pay cut in real terms and I am disappointed at this outcome for you all. Incremental progression is unaffected.
The announcement continued the commitment to the Police Uplift Programme. The force will have more than 500 additional officers by March 2021. The amount recruited...