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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,

Police: Silver Linings

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

The best laid plans and all that. 

Earlier today, I was given a date for Medical Retirement from the Metropolitan Police. My last day as a serving officer will be Wednesday 28th February 2018. 

That wasn’t how it was supposed to be. 

I joined the Met in September 1992 – a clueless 22 year old embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Over the years, I fell hopelessly in love with the Job. And with the men and women who do it. Like most of my generation, I fully intended to see out each one of my 30 years. Perhaps longer. I even had a half-baked idea that I might try to make it to Chief Constable one day.

Then life happened. 

In April 2013, at the age of 43, I broke. I was off work for more than 7 months – a once capable man reduced entirely to rubble. Almost five years later, I’m a whole lot better than I was, but I realise that I’ve done myself some permanent damage along the way. I’m no longer strong enough to deal with the exhaustion and the strain. I can no longer manage the inevitable stress. And I appear to be completely unable to...

Continues,

Police: Stories & Statistics

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I opened my emails this morning to find a message about another colleague breaking under the strain. Now off sick with depression and stress.

Stories like that seem much more frequent these days.

And it troubles me.

Then to the day’s news reports and the publication of the latest set of crime figures. According to the ONS, recorded crime in England & Wales rose by 14% in the year to September 2017. The following headlines were amongst the most concerning:

·       Violent Crime – up 20%

·       Knife Crime – up 21%

·       Sex Offences – up 23%

·       Robbery – up 29%

Over the course of more than 25 years in policing, I’ve developed something of a cautious approach to crime stats – lies, damned lies and all that. And there are those who will point, with some justification, to differences apparent in the findings of the British Crime Survey.

But, it’s increasingly difficult to turn aside from a set of headlines that looks something like this:

·       Crime is rising. (At the very least,...

Continues,

Police: Looking After the Thin Blue Line

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

There seems to be lots of talk in policing at the moment about something called ‘wellbeing’.

I’m no expert, but these are my ten thoughts on the subject.

(1) It’s People, Stupid

  • The fact that more of us are talking about the physical, emotional and psychological health of police officers and staff is a good thing. A very good thing.
  • But it must never become just another management soundbite – another thing to measure and another box to tick
  • This is about people – and it simply doesn’t get any more important than that.

(2) We need to understand policing better – operationally

  • Put quite simply, this is one heck of a job.
  • The things that become normal in this line of work would be entirely extraordinary in almost every other walk if life.
  • Do we recognise and understand the inevitable wear and tear officers and staff experience over the course of a policing lifetime – and the consequences this can have for their physical and mental health?
  • In particular, do we recognise and understand the cumulative consequences for...

    Continues,

Police: Dear Daily Mail

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

This is a short note to the people who work at the Daily Mail.

A couple of personal facts by way of introduction:

For more than twenty-five years, I have served as an officer with the Metropolitan Police. And I am incredibly proud of that fact. It has been – and it remains – my duty and my joy.

For the past four years and eight months, I have taken anti-depressant medication at the start of every day. And I am not remotely ashamed of that fact. It’s a part of who I am.

I don’t read your newspaper, but it’s been difficult to avoid your front pages in recent days. It’s apparent that you don’t think much of people like me: people who stand on thin blue lines; people who might need a helping hand to get through the day.

So I wanted to say a handful of things by way of a response. Starting with the job I do.

Policing is entirely imperfect. Individually and collectively, we get things wrong every single day – sometimes devastatingly so. But I work with heroes.

I work with people who save lives.

I work with people who don’t hesitate when...

Continues,

Police: An Old Festive Favourite

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

‘Tis the week before Christmas.

So here’s an old favourite: a retelling of the traditional Christmas story, using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the archives of the Bethlehem Police Department.


Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured – believed to be late December, c.2000 years ago)

Late Turn (2pm-10pm)

Team Briefing

  • Day 5 of Operation Census
  • Substantial numbers of migrants crossing the border during past week
  • Low levels of community tension reported; no incidents of note in last 24 hrs
  • Large crowds expected in central Bethlehem this evening
  • No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder
  • Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’ (an attack is highly likely)
  • 12 PCs on duty



  • Start of shift
  • 2 PCs to fixed post at main Town Checkpoint
  • 2 PCs to ongoing crime scene at Caesar’s Nightclub
  • 2 PCs to constant watch in the cells
  • Remaining officers out on foot


  • Routine patrols – High Street
  • Town Centre busy but peaceful


Police: A Copper’s Year (2017)

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

December. A month when people seem to write lists.

So here’s one of mine:

Ten Coppering Reflections on the year gone by.

(1) Policing under Strain

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating… These are the most challenging times for policing in this country since the end of the Second World War.

Growing demand. Growing complexity. Rising crime. Falling officer numbers. Growing pressure. Growing scrutiny. The complex consequences of austerity.

And more to come.

There is a difference between a saving and a cut – and I know many more good police officers working under significantly more strain than at any previous point in my career.

And still they keep on saving lives and seeking the lost; still they keep on comforting the broken and protecting the vulnerable; still they keep on confronting the dangerous and, just sometimes, risking it all.

I remain more proud than I can possibly say to count myself amongst them.

I work with heroes.

(2) The Shadows of Terror

Westminster Bridge. London Bridge. Borough Market. Finsbury Park. The...

Continues,

Police: Stories for the Ages

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Stories matter.

And yesterday, at London’s Guildhall, some extraordinary tales were told.

The great old venue played host to a unique and very special gathering of police officers, emergency services colleagues and members of the public. Welcomed jointly by the Met, BTP and the City of London Police, they came to honour those who responded to the succession of terrorist attacks that happened in London earlier this year. And to remember those who died.

Something like 200 commendations were awarded at the ceremony – in recognition of the frankly staggering levels of heroism and humanity displayed following the attacks at Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park – and the stories behind each of them are breathtaking. In the face of the very worst that human beings are capable of, we were witnesses to the very, very best.

Amongst the endless astonishing accounts, I want to make brief mention of three particular individuals.

At about 2.40pm on Wednesday 22 March 2017, a terrorist launched an attack on Westminster Bridge and at the Houses of...

Continues,

Police: Horrible Bosses

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

In any walk of life, it seems to me that there is a bit of a difference between bad management and good leadership.

All the difference in the world in fact.

So here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list of the sorts of things that might just be evident wherever bad management is to be found:

  • People who don’t love people.
  • People who regard people as no more than units of production.
  • People who care more for their own advancement than they do for anything else.
  • People who move goalposts repeatedly and without apparent reason.
  • People who appear unable to distinguish between the important and the urgent.
  • People for whom everything is a priority.
  • People who seem fixated with hitting the target, but who end up missing the point.
  • People who don’t listen.
  • Or who listen, but don’t hear.
  • Or hear, but don’t do anything about what’s been said.
  • People who would rather blame than learn.
  • People who will (in a shouty voice) tell you that their way is the only way.
  • People who surround themselves only with those who share their view of the world.
  • People who...

    Continues,

Police: Back in the Real World

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

In the world inhabited solely by those in possession of armchairs and agendas, it would appear that everything ought to be a priority for the police.

But, in the real world inhabited by police officers and staff, things are a little less straightforward.

In that other world, the police should be doing more of this – and more of that. And more of the other.

Back in the real world, doing more of one thing means – inevitably – doing less of another. Because resources are a little bit stretched just at the moment.

And, in any case, if everything is a priority, then nothing is.

In the real world, every victim of crime matters. But not all crimes are equal. Some have to matter more than others. Domestic Violence, for example, has to matter more than shoplifting. Any crime that has a child or vulnerable adult as its victim, has to matter more than one that doesn’t. And so on.

These realities have consequences for the decisions we make – and for the time and effort we invest in responding to any one type of crime.

But, in the other world, it...

Continues,

Latest Policecommander Stories

A Retirement Speech
Silver Linings
Stories & Statistics
Looking After the Thin Blue Line
Dear Daily Mail

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