Blogs from Police &   
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Police: Gross Misconduct

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

To err is human, but to foul things up completely requires a politician. Or rather, it requires a particular kind of politician: ideologues flawed by incompetence and floored by dishonesty.

Yesterday (Jan 17th), I read a powerful article written by Danny Shaw – who was, until very recently, the BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent. Titled ‘Home Truths’, it tells a story that exemplifies so much of what has been wrong with the political leadership of this country during the last eleven years: a combination of ideology, ignorance and ineptitude, allied with a basic inability to tell the truth about almost everything. (You can read Danny’s piece in full here:

Let me try to explain why it resonated so strongly with me.

From 2010-2018, the Government cut 44,000 officers and staff from policing in England & Wales. It was a conscious, deliberate political choice – one with consequences that were as predictable as they were devastating.

From the outset, police officers tried to warn politicians...

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Police: Questions, Questions

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

These are unprecedented times.

No peacetime Government in the last hundred years has faced a greater set of challenges than those now facing the Government of Boris Johnson.

That being said, I do have some questions about the response to Coronavirus in this country.

I have never been a supporter of those who offer commentary and criticism from the sidelines – from the comfort of their armchairs – without ever having faced up to a real challenge in real life. So I’m not about to become one of them.

But I do have some questions. They look something like this:

Why do we in Britain have one of the highest excess death rates in the Western world?

Why do we have one of the bleakest economic outlooks in the Western world?

Why did we delay the first lockdown?

Why did we fail to protect care homes?

Why did we fail to get adequate PPE to frontline workers?

Why was there one rule for Dominic Cummings and one rule for everyone else?

Why has he still not been held to account?

Why has Government messaging throughout the...

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Police: #OfficerDown

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I originally wrote much of what follows last summer – in the desperate days that followed the killing of PC Andrew Harper. Little more than a year on, the agony of history is repeating itself.

Officer Down.

Most give what they can; some give all they have. Sergeant Matiu Ratana – known to all as Matt – was one of those who gave everything. He was murdered in the line of duty in the early hours of Friday 25th September 2020. 

I never had the privilege of knowing him, but I know exactly what kind of man he was – one who understood that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty. The tributes paid to him – by colleagues, friends, local community members, rugby players and coaches, defence solicitors and even some of the prisoners he dealt with in custody – have been extraordinary. People loved him. He was “one of a kind”, “highly respected”, “an inspiration to all who knew him”, “friendly, capable and lovely”, “larger than life”, “big in stature and big in heart”. In every photo I have seen of him, he is smiling.


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Police: Perspectives

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

[Author’s Note: This blog is a little longer than those I usually write, but the subject matter seemed too important to make it any shorter.]

Last Thursday evening in north London, the police were called to reports of a fight in the street. On arriving at the scene, officers identified a man who matched the description of one of those involved and, as they struggled to detain him, one of the officers placed his knee against the man’s head and neck. 

The police officer was white. The man he was arresting was black.

While the man sustained only minor injuries during the encounter, footage of the incident carried unsettling echoes of the killing of George Floyd in America. It quickly went viral.

The man, who was wanted on recall to prison, was later charged with possession of a knife. The officer was suspended from duty and the incident referred by the Met to the Independent Office for Police Complaints. 

On Thursday night, I watched my social media feed with apprehension, fearing what might happen next.

London feels like a tinderbox at the moment....

Continues,

Police: The Point of Failure

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Policing is taking an absolute hammering at the moment – with the relentless criticism of a job that most couldn’t or wouldn’t do coming from almost every quarter. And, while it’s tempting to suggest that it was ever thus, there can be no doubt that it’s got demonstrably worse in the last few weeks.

Quite apart from anything else, it is placing police officers’ lives in danger.

Sections of the media have abandoned any last pretence of objectivity and impartiality and declared open season on the girls and boys in blue. The one-eyed occupiers of comfortable armchairs have done likewise. And, while some MPs appear to have changed their tune in recent times, the political tone was set – and the damage done – by the astonishing level of hostility displayed towards policing by the government first elected in 2010.

I don’t think that policing is perfect – quite the opposite in fact. As I have often said before, I think that police officers – both individually and collectively – are capable of getting things terribly wrong. And, precisely...

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Police: A.C.A.B.

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I’m married to Bear. She’s wonderful.

At the start of this week, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary: eighteen years spent in the company of my best friend; eighteen years spent listening and learning and having the rough edges rubbed off me.

Back in 2002, in the weeks leading up to our wedding, we signed up for one of those marriage preparation courses – a series of sessions designed to get us ready for the big day and all the adventures that lay beyond. The chosen subject for one of those sessions was communication and, during it, we were taught about two specific words that you ought to make every effort to avoid using in any relationship:

‘Always’ and ‘Never’.

Eighteen years along the road, I can attest to the wisdom of that advice.

You know how things can begin to unravel when you find yourself falling out with the person you love most in the world:

“You never take my concerns seriously…”

“You always try to fix things when all I want you to do is listen…”

“You always leave your dirty stuff on the floor…”

“You never...

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Police: The Killing of George Floyd

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I’m struggling for words – struggling to write anything coherent. The best I seem to be able to manage is this collection of thoughts about the killing of George Floyd…

  • The greatest duty – the greatest privilege – that any police officer could ever have is to save the life of another human being.
  • The killing of George Floyd represents an absolute betrayal of everything I have ever believed in – everything I ever stood for as a police officer.
  • And I know that every good police officer I have ever known would say exactly the same.
  • But the thing is that it’s not just George Floyd. It’s every other case as well. Every other story. Every other piece of history.
  • Because this has been going on – in one form or another – for hundreds of years.
  • At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, Britain is not America. And British policing is not remotely the same as American policing. But that doesn’t for one moment mean that there’s nothing to see here. There’s a whole host of things we’ve got wrong too.
  • Stephen Lawrence was murdered...

    Continues,

Police: A Copper’s Lot

Written by RSS Poster policecommander


Yesterday, the Prime Minister gave a pre-recorded speech in which he attempted to explain the government’s latest strategy for responding to the pandemic. Stay Alert, we were told. But a soundbite does not a strategy make and, mostly, he seems only to have confused people (including senior members of his own government).

“Stay at home as much as possible.”

“Work from home if you can.”

“Limit contact with other people.”

What do these statements even mean? They are so subjective as to be rendered almost meaningless. 

But, as ever, police officers out on patrol will be expected to interpret and apply them. And some will accuse those officers of being heavy-handed in doing so, while others will accuse them of not doing enough. 

A Copper’s Lot is to be caught in the middle, trying to make sense of things that make almost no sense at all.

The Last Few Days

Last week, the nation marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Friday evening’s BBC broadcast included a beautiful musical tribute to key workers and members of the...

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Police: Black & Blue

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

These days, I find it incredibly difficult to watch video footage of confrontation involving police officers. Too many memories I suppose.

Yesterday though, I caught sight of the clip that was circulating on social media – of a black father being tasered by police officers in front of his young son. I could only watch it once – and once was almost too much. 

I found it enormously distressing – for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because of the child. The image of him kicking his little legs in obvious distress as the officer picks him up has been playing on a loop in my mind.

Before I go any further, I should make clear that I’m not going to offer any comment on the specific police actions shown in the film. Given the fact that there’s an independent investigation underway, it would be enormously irresponsible to do so. In any case, I wasn’t there. And I’m not taser trained. And I don’t know all the facts. Trials conducted in the ten-second-court of online opinion have never been a good idea.

But neither can I ignore the significant...

Continues,

Police: Extraordinary People. Extraordinary Job. Extraordinary Times.

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I want to tell you a short story about a group of extraordinary people, doing extraordinary things, during these extraordinary times. You might not have heard of them before.

If you were to meet any of the police officers (from the Met, City of London Police & BTP), firefighters and NHS staff who are members of London’s Pandemic Multi-Agency Response Team (PMART), they would no doubt try to tell you that they aren’t extraordinary at all. I suspect they would say that they are just doing their job. They might even make reference to that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty. Even so, I want to pause for a moment to acknowledge and salute them.

Each afternoon in recent times, we have been faced with the latest heartbreaking headlines – an update on the number of those who have died in hospital from Coronavirus. The official total is fast approaching 20,000, and behind every number is a name. A family. A story. But what the published total doesn’t include is the number of those who have died from...

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Latest Policecommander Stories

Gross Misconduct
Questions, Questions
The Point of Failure

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