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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...

Continues, Read More...



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...

Continues, Read More...


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....

Continues, Read More...



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;...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Tense

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Policing Future

Much talk at the moment about the future of policing.

Amongst the headlines and proposals:

  • New recruitment processes
  • New entry routes (three of them – and much animated talk about degrees)
  • New approaches to assessment and professional development
  • New role profiles
  • New Licences to Practice
  • New ideas about pay and reward – including the introduction of Accredited Practitioners
  • New submissions to the Pay Review Body

And then there are the ever-new challenges of technology, of cross border criminality, of international terrorism – and of the complete unknown. All the while, police officers of the immediate future will be expected to deal with the long term costs to society of short term cuts to frontline services.

But there is a danger that all this talk of ‘policing future’ sidelines the very pressing concerns of ‘policing present’.

Policing Present

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating:

  • Crime is rising – particularly crime of the most serious kinds
  • Demand is rising – not least as a consequence of the gaping holes that have...

    Continues, Read More...


Police: The Violence Disease

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Just over 11 years ago, in March 2007, I stood quietly on Hammersmith Grove in West London. I was dressed in full police uniform.

It was a beautiful spring morning and we had just closed the local roads to allow the friends and family of an innocent young boy to come and pay their respects at the scene of his killing. His name was Kodjo Yenga and, though I had never had the privilege of meeting him, I will never forget him.

I stood at a respectful distance and watched, as crowds began to gather at the place where the flowers were laid and the grief graffiti covered the walls and pavement. And I listened as the wailing and the hymn-singing began, cries of deepest despair and defiant hope filling the air.

images

There are places and moments that you never forget.

In the years that followed, I found myself standing in far too many of the haunted places, where young men had lost their lives to unfathomable violence.

And still it goes on.

And I find that I cannot sit silently as the madness of history continues to repeat itself.

If we want anything to...

Continues, Read More...



Police: A Message for the new Home Secretary

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Dear Home Secretary,

I suspect that this is a heck of a time to be taking on what must be a heck of a job.

But if one lesson has stood out in recent days, it’s a reminder of that most basic truth: people always matter more than numbers. 

Infinitely more.

And, as you start in your new role, I wanted to make a handful of observations about the people who are policing.

An Extraordinary Job

Policing is an extraordinary job. 

People call it ‘a job like no other’. Police Officers call it simply ‘The Job’. For more than 25 years – until I retired at the end of February this year – it was my breathtaking privilege to stand on the thin blue line. 

My duty & my joy.

Because, when you strip away all that really isn’t important, the job is to:

  • Save lives
  • Find the lost
  • Comfort those who are grieving and broken
  • Reassure those who are afraid
  • Protect the vulnerable
  • Confront the dangerous
  • Sometimes… to risk it all

Pause and think about it for a moment: these are the things that we ask and expect of our police officers. And I...

Continues, Read More...



Police: We Need to Talk about Policing

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

When I was still at school, I decided that I wanted to be a police officer. I couldn’t tell you why exactly, but it had something to do with the adventure of it all. That, and the fact it seemed to be a line of work that mattered. Ask most Coppers why they joined and they will tell you, simply, that they wanted to make a difference.

It was a heart thing for me.

It still is.

Because, when you strip away all the noise and the nonsense, it remains about as remarkable – and important – as a job can be.

Yesterday was my first day back in the real world after two happy weeks away with my family. And I woke to news of two more fatal stabbings in London. They happened within 40 minutes of one other – in two completely different parts of the Capital. Then I opened my emails to news of two more of my former police colleagues breaking under the strain. Now off sick and in urgent need of assistance.

And it struck me that these things are not somehow remote or distant. They are here and now, close to home. These are the stories of the lives –...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Stuff I Got Wrong

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Retirement takes a bit of getting used to. But it certainly allows some time and space to think. Precious time. Time that can otherwise be hard to find in a world that is moving far faster than is good for any of us.

And so I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about some of the things I got wrong over the course of my policing career. The sorts of things we’re not always very good at talking about.

Here are a handful of them – some from when I started out and some that are much more recent.

I.     Learning the Hard Way

I worked damn hard when I started out as a PC. That was a good thing. Less good was my response to the realisation that I didn’t have it all worked out from the start; that my policing life was only just beginning; that I didn’t actually know much about anything.

You see, I was desperate to do well. So desperate in fact, that when I didn’t get things perfectly right first time round – and when kind and far more experienced colleagues pointed out the inevitable errors of my ways – it felt like a particularly painful kind...

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Police: A Retirement Speech

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

This speech comes a little earlier than planned.

But life happened – and today is my last as a serving police officer.

I wanted to write a handful of parting words to four particular groups of people: the public we serve, the press who observe, the politicians who govern and the police officers & staff who I have worked alongside for more than twenty-five years.

I.     The Public

Sir Robert Peel had it right from the very beginning: you are us and we are you. You are the reason why we do what we do.

Ask most Coppers why they joined and they will tell you simply that they wanted to make a difference: for communities, for families, for victims, for the vulnerable, for those struggling souls stumbling through the very worst days of their lives.

It was never about money or power or fame. It was for the adventure and for the painful privilege of venturing into the hurting places.

And I want you to know that, in spite of our very evident imperfections, the vast majority of the men and women I’ve been privileged to work with down the years are just...

Continues, Read More...





Latest Policecommander Stories

Without a Vision
Rising Crime
Remembering
Against Hope, Believing in Hope
Tense

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