Blogs from Police &   
 other Emergency Service Workers

Police: Feeling Afraid

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

People are feeling afraid.


Afraid of getting sick.

Afraid of dying.

Afraid of losing loved ones.

Afraid of being left alone.

Afraid of losing their jobs.

Afraid of not being able to pay the rent.

Afraid of not having enough.

Afraid of the unknown.


People are feeling really, really afraid. 

And fear is a little bit like a virus. It attaches itself to living cells and spreads relentlessly from one host to the next, causing immeasurable harm as it does so. Fear is dangerously infectious – and the realisation of that fact must surely lead us to search for a cure.

But is there a cure for fear?

There are certainly all sorts of things that might help us to feel less afraid. Things like:

  • Facts: understanding what it is we’re dealing with.
  • Advice: understanding what we need to do by way of a response.
  • Provision: of adequate protective equipment and medical supplies.
  • Reassurance: being told by people we trust that there will be enough food and other essentials to go round; being told that, in the end, this too shall pass.

Each of those things is...

Continues,

Police: Fifty Things

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Who doesn’t love a good list?

And since today is my 50th birthday, I thought I’d come up with 50 things I’ve learned along the way.

From the sublime to the ridiculous.

  1. Love is everything
  2. Marrying my best friend was one of my better life decisions
  3. Being a dad is a privilege 
  4. Every contact leaves a trace
  5. Kindness is not weakness 
  6. It is never the critic who counts
  7. The Spitfire is quite possibly the most beautiful object ever made
  8. Religion and faith are not the same thing
  9. Peanut M&Ms are entirely delicious
  10. For more than 25 years, I worked with heroes
  11. The West Wing is the finest TV show ever made
  12. And The Shawshank Redemption is the finest film
  13. Hope is a good thing
  14. Enough talk of ‘arriving’. Its always been about the journey
  15. Never trust a person who walks without a limp
  16. Kenny Dalglish is the greatest footballer I ever saw play
  17. Anfield on a European night takes your breath away
  18. Doing the wrong thing faster won’t get the right thing done
  19. If all you possess is an armchair and an opinion, it might be better to stay seated and silent
  20. Dogs ought to be...

    Continues,

Police: Crossing the Line

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Today was one of those unexpected days.

I found myself on stage at the Cambridge Theatre – home of Matilda The Musical – talking to an audience of a thousand people about my new book. There were a number of writers there – including Sarfraz Manzoor, Rachel Clarke, Matthew Syed and Jess Phillips – and we were each given five minutes to say a few words.

This was my script…


I’m a husband to one, a dad to three and – for more than twenty-five years – I served in the Metropolitan Police. It was my duty and my joy. 

When you strip away all that really isn’t important, the job of a police officer is just about as extraordinary as a job could ever be. It is:

  • To save lives
  • To find the lost
  • To bind up the broken-boned and broken-hearted
  • To step into harm’s way in defence of complete strangers
  • Sometimes, to risk it all

If you were to ask most coppers why they joined, they would tell you, simply, that they wanted to make a difference… that they wanted to change the world.

The painful privilege of policing is to see all of life and all of death...

Continues,

Police: Choices. Or the Lack of Them.

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I have already cast my vote. 

I will be away from home on Election Day, so I sent it in by post. 

And I really struggled with where to where to put my ‘X’. The truth is that I didn’t want to support any of them; that I feel completely betrayed by all of them. Voting matters though and so I gave my support to the candidate who appeared to me to represent the least worst option.

But it wasn’t much of a choice. (And, by the way, how on earth did we end up in a place where ‘least worst option’ was the best that anyone could offer.)

The Conservative-led governments of the last ten years have:

  • Decimated policing (cutting 44,000 officers and staff between 2010-18)
  • Decimated the criminal justice system
  • Decimated the prison system
  • Decimated the probation service
  • Decimated pretty much every other part of the public sector
  • Overseen a catastrophic increase in child poverty
  • Overseen a catastrophic increase in homelessness
  • Overseen a catastrophic increase in Foodbank use

And so it goes on.

Austerity was a conscious, deliberate political...

Continues,

Police: Why We Joined

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

A tweet from the journalist Kay Burley caught my eye this morning. It was about nurses. 

More specifically, it was about concerns raised by the Royal College of Nursing that a majority of their members believe they cannot provide the standard of care that they want for their patients. An RCN spokesperson had this to say:

“Nurses aren’t able to sit with their patients, help them with their food…help them bath if they can’t bath themselves.”

If you were to ask most nurses why they joined, I suspect they would tell you simply that it was because they wanted to help people: to care for the sick, to mend the broken, to hold the hands of those whose lives are ebbing, to comfort the relatives of those who have gone. And there aren’t enough of them to be able to do those things any more. At least, not enough to do those things well in every case where simple human kindness is the only thing that really matters.

The Health Foundation charity estimate that there are almost 44,000 nursing vacancies in the NHS. And the RCN suggest that more than a third of...

Continues,

Police: A Litany of Failure

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

When it comes to policing, the government of the last ten years has been wrong about pretty much everything. 

From the moment in 2010 that David Cameron moved into Downing Street and Theresa May took up residence in the Home Office, it was evident that police reform was high on their agendas. In fact, it rapidly became apparent that they regarded policing as a significant problem in need of fixing. 

They actually seemed to relish their task, but the damning facts are that they set about it without any kind of coherent plan, without any real understanding of (or appreciation for) the service they were seeking to reform and without paying the slightest bit of attention to the voices of those who actually knew what they were talking about. From the very outset, members of the police service spoke out, warning the government of the inevitable consequences of their actions. But their concerns were dismissed with undisguised contempt by a Home Secretary who accused them of ‘crying wolf’. 

Billions of pounds were cut from police budgets. Between...

Continues,

Police: Officer Down

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

As the world moves on, it leaves behind a broken-hearted bride, married just four weeks ago.

Officer down.

Most give what they can; some give all they have. PC Andrew Harper was one of those who gave everything, killed in the line of duty on the night of Thursday 15th August 2019. 

I never had the privilege of knowing him, but I know what kind of man he was – one who understood that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty. He was described by his Chief Constable as “a fantastic police officer” and “a great friend and man”. I suspect that I would have liked him very much.

The sense of staggering loss is greatest, of course, for those who knew him best and loved him most. I find myself thinking of his two families – the one he was born into and the one he was sworn into – but, most of all, I think of his widow, Lissie. She was supposed to be preparing for a honeymoon. Now she’s preparing for a funeral.

I can’t even begin to imagine.

Those who do the job know the risks of course. But there has been an inescapable sense of late that those...

Continues,

Police: The Stop & Search Debate

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Another day.

Another grim set of headlines about boys being murdered on our streets.

And, inevitably, the Stop & Search debate comes back round again.

Depressingly, the prevailing tone has become more and more binary – a back-and-forth argument between those who regard Stop & Search as the root of all evil and those who regard it as the solution to everything.

Both perspectives are wrong.

I was a police officer for more than twenty-five years and there are two things that I am absolutely certain of when it comes to Stop & Search:

(1) It saves lives

(2) It isn’t the long term solution to anything

I haven’t given up on hope. I know that there are answers to knife crime – based on the development of a genuine public health approach, sustained over 20+ years and independent of any form of political control.

But it is going to take time. Time that tomorrow’s victims don’t have.

In the meantime, the greatest duty – and privilege – that any police officer will ever have is to save a life. That’s what we need them to be doing out there, right...

Continues,

Police: The Missing 20,000

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I find myself caught somewhere between incredibly angry and wearily lost for words. 

A week or two ago, Sajid Javid – the current Home Secretary – pledged that, if he became prime minister, he would put 20,000 more police officers on the streets.

Speaking on the radio a few days ago, Boris Johnson suggested that “it is vital that they (the police) are properly funded… I thoroughly agree that we need more police out on the street.” In fact, he agreed with the suggestion that 20,000 more officers were needed.

Yesterday on social media, another of the Conservative leadership contenders, Jeremy Hunt, accepted bluntly that “police cuts went too far.” 

20,000 is of course the (significantly rounded down) number of police officers cut from forces in England & Wales since the coalition government came to power in 2010. (Actually, 44,000 is an even more telling number. It’s the one, supplied by the National Audit Office, that includes PCSO and Police Staff cuts.)

And here we are now, presented with the words of...

Continues,

Police: On Leadership

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

And so to the queue of people telling us that they want to be the next Prime Minister. Faced by an electorate baffled and bewildered and downright angry about the state of political leadership in this country.

Here’s my list of ten things I want from the people who want me to follow them – a list against which to measure those who seek to lead:

(1) Leadership is service

The first responsibility of a leader is to serve. Before anything else, to serve.

(2) Leadership is sacrifice

The greatest leaders are the ones who believe in something greater than themselves – and who are prepared to spend themselves in that cause.

(3) Leadership is courage

I find myself returning often to that Aaron Sorkin line from the film, The American President: “I was so busy keeping my job, that I forgot to do my job”. Leadership demands courage. I mean moral courage. I mean the insistence on doing the right thing, regardless of the personal costs or consequences.

(4) Leadership is truth

Leaders must tell the truth. Always.

(5) Leadership is listening

Two ears, one mouth –...

Continues,

Latest Policecommander Stories

Feeling Afraid
Fifty Things
Crossing the Line
Choices. Or the Lack of Them.
Why We Joined

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