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Police: Naming Names

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Earlier this week, using a set of very carefully chosen words, Theresa May appeared to suggest that there was no connection between falling police numbers and rising violent crime.

She was wrong. 

Of course the rise in violence is not only about police numbers (there are a hugely complex combination of factors in play), but implying that there is no connection at all between those two things defies both common sense and the professional experience of thousands of police officers, my own included. 

And it isn’t the first time that she has been wrong about policing.

In 2010, in her first speech as Home Secretary to the annual Police Federation Conference, she stated that the job of the police was “nothing more, and nothing less, than to cut crime.” 

She was wrong. 

The job of the police is about so much more than just crime. It is about saving lives and finding lost children and responding to people in mental health crisis and dealing with car crashes and delivering unbearable news to families who have lost loved ones and ten thousand other...

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Police: Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

My phone has been ringing consistently in the last 24 hours – a succession of calls from journalists wanting to talk about Knife Crime, or to arrange radio and TV interviews to talk about Knife Crime. Prior commitments have meant that I’ve had to turn almost all of those requests down, but this is what I would have said given the chance:

(1) A Long Term Plan

We need a long term plan for dealing with knife crime – at least ten years, preferably twenty. We need to understand that, when problems have been a generation or more in the making, they might just take a generation or more to mend.

We have got to get beyond the relentless demand for quick fixes. The professional and effective use of police Stop & Search powers undoubtedly saves lives, but it is not the long term answer to anything.

(2) A Public Health Approach

We need to re-frame our understanding of violence, recognising that it is at least as much a public health issue as it is a crime problem. Violence is a disease that can be caught and transmitted. But it can also be...

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Police: A 10 Point Plan for Policing

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I’m sitting on a train bound for Cardiff where, later today, I will have the privilege of spending a bit of time in the company officers and staff from South Wales Police. I’ll be talking to them about the day I fell seriously ill and the reasons why I think it happened. I’ll be telling them about the long, long road to recovery.

I love policing with all my heart and soul – I always have and I always will. It’s a heck of a job though – placing the kinds of demands on people (body, mind and soul) that most of the rest of us would struggle to imagine, much less endure. Police officers go where most wouldn’t and they do what most couldn’t. I love them for it.

But as I look round me in policing at the moment, I see more good people operating under substantially more strain than at any previous point in my lifetime. Crime is rising – certainly crime of the most serious kinds. Levels of recorded knife crime are now the highest they have been since the end of World War II. Demand is rising too, not least as a consequence the huge...

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Police: On Mopeds

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

A couple of days ago, the Met Police released a brief series of film clips that showed officers targeting moped criminals. In several instances, suspects were seen being deliberately knocked off their bikes by the police vehicles that were pursuing them. Predictably, the footage went viral. In the accompanying press release, the police had this to say:

“It is hoped that by demonstrating the full range of tactics that officers are prepared to use against moped and motorcycle criminals, potential offenders will think twice about their actions.” 

Overwhelmingly, the response – from police colleagues and public alike – was positive. At last, people said, something was being done about the violent criminals who had previously been operating with apparent impunity. But there were some who disagreed.

From January to October last year, there were more than 19,000 crimes committed in London by suspects on mopeds. That’s a heck of a lot of very serious offences. The first (though far from only) duty of the police is the prevention and detection of crime. And...

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Police: Damage Done

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Another week.

Another round of depressing headlines about Chief Constables stating that their Forces no longer have the resources they need to do all that is being asked and expected of them.

Another round of deeply disturbing headlines about police officers being attacked in the street. The accompanying film footage is too much for me to watch.

I have never known times remotely like these – and it set me thinking about all that has disappeared from policing in the last eight years. 

The list is staggering:

I. The loss of 44,000 police officers and staff in England & Wales.

Say that number out loud a couple of times and let it sink in.

II. The loss of neighbourhood policing.

  • London has more 600 local council wards. In 2010, each of those had its own dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
  • That meant a minimum of 1 Sergeant, 2 PCs and 3 PCSOs for every single ward.
  • Safer Neighbourhoods Teams don’t exist in London any more.
  • In many other parts of the country, local Neighbourhood Policing Teams have all but vanished – and with them, critical relationships...

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Police: Criminal Neglect

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Policing in England & Wales is at breaking point. 

Fewer officers with fewer resources are being asked to do a job that it more difficult, more demanding and – frequently – more dangerous than it has been at any previous point in my lifetime. And the responsibility for that reality rests squarely with the government of the day. 

On October 25th, a report published by the Home Affairs Select Committee suggested that Forces are “struggling to cope” with current levels of demand and warned of “dire consequences” for public safety if policing is denied the additional funding it so desperately needs. The HASC report went further still, accusing the Home Office of a “complete failure of leadership” when it comes to policing.

This damning accusation mirrored one of the observations made in last month’s National Audit Office Report on police funding. The NAO suggested that the Home Office “has no overarching strategy for policing” and suggested that there are “significant gaps in (the Home Office’s) understanding of demand and of...

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Police: Without a Vision

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

There’s an old line from the Good Book that’s been on my mind of late. It goes something like this:

“Without a vision, the people perish.”

It comes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs (known also as ‘The Book of Wisdom’) and it has particular resonance as I scan the current police-related news headlines.

First there is the National Audit Office report into police funding. Amongst a series of damning conclusions, you can read the following:

  • ‘The Home Office has no overarching strategy for policing, limiting its ability to plan investments and programmes of work over the longer term.’
  • ‘The formula for funding police forces does not take into account the full range of demands on police time.’
  • ‘There are no common standards for measuring all demands for police services and their costs, and therefore no national picture of what forces need.’

Extraordinary. Just extraordinary.

And, without a vision, the people perish.

The NAO point out that there has been a 30% real terms reduction in central Government funding for policing...

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Police: Rising Crime

Written by RSS Poster policecommander
The headlines are telling us that crime is rising.
So here are ten brief suggestions from a retired police officer to suggest why that might be so:
(1) Falling Police Officer Numbers
There is an absolute connection between the number of police officers in England & Wales and the number of crimes committed in England & Wales. Whilst it is impossible to set out detailed cause and effect (crime is affected by a thousand different things), to deny the connection would be to abandon both common sense and professional experience.
There are 20,000+ fewer police officers in England & Wales now, compared with just eight years ago. That’s a heck of a reduction.
(2) Falling Police Community Support Officer Numbers
It’s not just the reduction in warranted officers. PCSO numbers have been decimated – with inevitable consequences for street visibility and local community engagement.
(3) Falling Police Staff Numbers
It’s not just the reduction in warranted officers and PCSOs. Police Staff numbers have also fallen very significantly – with inevitable...

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Police: Remembering

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

It was the grandest of adventures – my life in blue. 

I remember the moment I first knew that I wanted to be a Copper. The PC walking down the other side of Hammersmith Broadway won’t have seen the tentative schoolboy standing at the bus stop. But I saw him. And, from that moment on, I never seriously considered doing anything else.

I remember being driven through the gates at Hendon for the first time, all nerves and expectation. Sergeant Parkes was at the wheel of the minibus, with half a dozen of us sitting in the back, wide-eyed and wondering.

I remember the marching and polishing and running and revising.

I remember my first day on patrol and my first vehicle stop. I remember being terrified. I remember catching my reflection in tall shop windows and that unmistakeable sense of pride at who I was becoming.

I remember my first armed incident.

I remember my first nickname: Tarquin or, more often, Tarkers. Apparently, I talked a bit posh.

I remember my first arrest, my first dead body, my first car crash, my first pub fight, my first murder scene....

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Police: Against Hope, Believing in Hope

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

This is a short tale about two football teams.

The first are a group of grown men who carried the hopes of a watching nation. The second are a group of young boys who carried the hopes of a watching world.

In Russia, the England men’s football team made it to a World Cup Semi-Final for the first time in twenty-eight years. In Thailand, against seemingly impossible odds, the Wild Boars football team were rescued from an underground cave system where they had been trapped by rising flood waters.

The story told in Thailand was a true matter of life and death. If Bill Shankly – the late, great Liverpool manager – was still with us, he might have suggested that the story told in Russia was not a matter of life and death – that it was more important than that.  But, whilst Shanks might have been guilty of overstating things just a little, the two footballing stories do have something important in common.

That thing is hope.

In Thailand, the situation facing the twelve boys and their coach was desperate; the likelihood of rescue slim;...

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Latest Policecommander Stories

Naming Names
Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan
A 10 Point Plan for Policing
On Mopeds
Damage Done

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