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...
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:
Keep up the social distancing and safeguards in and out of work. Becoming exposed means two weeks without leaving home and a big impact at work.
We have set out sustainable arrangements for WMP to operate that are in line with government guidance.
Thank you for the great work in helping the public follow the rules.
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...
My September challenge is to try and ensure in exceptional times West Midlands Police does not lose a year in making progress on our vision of preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need through the “This work matters” strategy.
Some of you may admire my optimism given the challenges we are dealing with so let us start there!
The need to dial up our work on COVID restrictions is now very pressing given the global and local upturn in infections. This time of course there is no lockdown and we are very busy with normal demand. The good news is the multi-agency team in each local area is on a better footing. We have a much better picture on where infection risk is highest, though the quality of this is reliant on testing information.
We have been very successful under Operation Reliant on dealing with large gatherings. We are now trying to focus on gatherings of six and facemasks in key areas like public transport. When you are out and about please challenge and use the 4E’s...
Next week I am having a week at home. I am not going on holiday but the break is really welcomed. The last few months have been demanding. I suspect I am not alone in feeling a little tired. I hope you are taking some time off across the summer as you deserve a break. Sadly it will not be a holiday this year for most of us.
March seems a lifetime ago. We began with huge staff absences as people self-isolated. The lockdown was keenly followed by the public and as staff came back we were very proactive during Operation Inglenook tackling drug dealers and gangs. We moved from this stage into the George Floyd related protests and some very real challenges to police legitimacy and race at a time of considerable pressure. Demands for police service started to return alongside the significant uplift in domestic abuse and harassment.
The public followed the lockdown better than any of us could have imagined. Today communities are tired of the restrictions and feeling the impact. I have always said the public will...
I start this week’s blog with a very heavy heart. I was devastated that on the 26th June, Special Constable Resham Singh Nahal died at his home. Resham was at home after suffering life changing injuries from an RTC when on duty last year. I spoke to Resham on the Monday on the week of his death and we discussed how he could continue as a special and how he was recovering. He was an honourable officer and a man of great faith. A post mortem will determine if his death relates to his injury but the force will honour his service when his funeral can take place.
Resham, on the left, at Pride 2017
As you probably saw I had a short bathe in one of Birmingham’s canals last week. It was a neither heroic or dignified and I am grateful to PCSOs and officers from Ladywood NHT who carried out the rescue. It was a side story in three terrific arrest by the team.
These great arrests and the difference we make in communities are the reasons why I am so proud of what we do. It is also important to remember lots of what we do...
After three weeks of protests and discussions following George Floyd’s death and the relaxation of lockdown rules I want to recap on where I believe we are and the next steps.
I indicated a few weeks back that a combination of tensions on race, easing of lockdown and the pressure on young people coupled with the return of normal business would create a challenging summer for us. After several weeks of protests we are now dealing, through Operation Reliant, with impromptu raves, a return of vehicle cruises this week and continuing gang related tensions. The demands are unlikely to ease and there will be additional pressures posed when licensed premises open in July.
I think this is a very difficult context for us all trying hard to do our job. The response has been outstanding from the force.
I do however suspect many of you are concerned over the challenges of using powers in this context. I want to reinforce that I support you in the work you do. Policing is difficult, messy and complex and I...
I am a black female Police Officer of African-Caribbean descent, currently serving with the West Midlands Police. I speak because I am overwhelmed by the social structures that seek to erode the essence of who and what I am. I am wearied by the social statements and conversations that seek to minimise my contributions to the noble profession of policing and my personal sacrifices to see a cohesive and acceptable level of organisational justice, quality of service delivery and engagement with black communities.
I am often forced to remind myself that I walk the great policing beat for miles and miles with African feet! Policing does not separate me from my black origin or the pain of my community.
PC Andrea Reynolds
Rolling forward towards the end of a policing career, that has seen the impact of historic events and decisions seep negatively into the heart of all communities. These decisions have shouted subliminal messages. Messages that...
This weekend saw extraordinary scenes in the USA. As men set off for space riots broke out across American cities. It has a striking symmetry to the tensions in America on the day in 1969 when Apollo 11 set off for the moon as Black Americans protested about racial injustice. Views captured by the famous poem of the time by Gil Scott Heron. It is depressing so little has changed.
In August 2014 I wrote a blog for you about watching America respond to a series of black men die in incidents with the police whilst I was on holiday in the US.
The death of George Floyd was quite simply shocking and a horrific act by someone who is meant to uphold the law. It had no place in policing and a former officer has been charged with murder.
Over the years I have much contact with US policing. It is so very different to what we have in the UK. There is no national approach. Specifically no common approach to the use of force. The best effort was one produced by the Police Foundation (a charity) and based on our UK...
Wednesday 13 May saw COVID regulations change what is permissible as part of the government’s easing of the lockdown.
Let’s all start by acknowledging this is a tricky ask. The government needs to contain the infection rate, allow a reasonable level of easing and start up the economy. Quite hard.
Before we get to the changes to the restrictions we need to recognise:
The lockdown has been very successful in achieving the aim of reducing infections. This is to the great credit of the public and to British Policing who have helped keep this on track. Well done. We have managed to be sensible and proportionate in our approach.
It has been so successful it has created some caution about returning to work. Starting up is harder than slowing down!
We geared up for a significant rise in hospitalisation and deaths. The news has been grim but the peak has not matched our worst fears. We now have capacity built and ready if events turn. A thank-you to everyone who has got us ready.