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Police: A Blueprint for Policing (2021)

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

These are the most challenging times for policing in this country since the end of the Second World War.

I said as much at the start of 2020. And then the virus came. And then George Floyd was killed. And then the streets filled with protestors. And then the second wave of the virus hit. And then Sarah Everard was killed. And then the streets filled with protestors. And then the Government proposed new (and singularly ill-judged) legislation for the policing of protests. And then the streets filled with protestors.

At each point along the way, police officers have been caught in the middle of it all, seemingly damned whatever they do. ‘All Coppers Are Bastards’, remains the refrain. And yet, in an increasingly divided society, as we face an increasingly uncertain future, the need for good policing has never been greater.

This then is my blueprint for policing: eleven brief thoughts about where we go from here.

I. We need to talk

We need to have a proper, old-fashioned, grown up conversation about policing: about...

Continues, Read More...



Police: #KillTheBill

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

A night of rioting in Bristol.

Yet another set of grim and deeply depressing headlines. 

Police officers with broken bones and punctured lungs. Police vehicles overturned and in flames. Police buildings under sustained attack. Extreme violence and endless vitriol directed yet again at the brave women and men who stand on the thin blue line.

What the hell is going on?

I don’t know whether I’m actually capable of a coherent answer to that question, but I do know that it’s about more than a single night of criminality in a single urban neighbourhood.

It’s about much more than that.

At this particular moment in time, it feels as though police officers are being attacked from every side:

  • By those who think the policing of protests is far too robust
  • By those who think it isn’t nearly robust enough
  • By those who think the policing of Covid regulations is far too draconian
  • By those who think it isn’t nearly draconian enough
  • By feminists
  • By misogynists
  • By anti-racists
  • By actual racists
  • By those who accuse the police of being facists
  • By...

    Continues, Read More...


Police: Crossroads

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Policing is at a crossroads.

The headlines this morning were truly grim.

The pictures were even worse: photographs of women being pinned to the ground by police officers, at a vigil held in memory of a murdered woman.

Clapham Common is a short walk from where I live. I went there yesterday. I went with my eldest daughter in the middle of the afternoon. We bought flowers and we paid our respects. It was peaceful and calm and subdued. It was powerful and poignant and painful. It was beautiful. As we walked slowly round the bandstand, I spotted a couple of uniformed police officers – one man, one woman – standing back from the edge of us all. They were quiet and dignified. I wandered over to them and thanked them for being there.

My daughter and I were back at home as evening drew in. As the crowd swelled. As the atmosphere changed. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what happened. I don’t know exactly who said what and I don’t know exactly who did what, so I’m not going to try to second guess any of it. That kind of uninformed...

Continues, Read More...



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: https://www.dannyshaw.net/post/home-truths.)

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...

Continues, Read More...



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...

Continues, Read More...



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.

The...

Continues, Read More...



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, Read More...



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...

Continues, Read More...



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...

Continues, Read More...



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, Read More...




Latest Policecommander Stories

A Blueprint for Policing (2021)
#KillTheBill
Crossroads
Gross Misconduct
Questions, Questions

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