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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, Read More...



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, Read More...



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, Read More...



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, Read More...



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, Read More...



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, Read More...



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, Read More...



Police: This Government

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Politics is absolutely not my thing. 

People are my thing.

I love them. 

And the fact that I love them means I cannot stay silent about the catastrophic harm being done to this country by this government.

Look at the state of policing

In September 2018, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report suggesting that:

  • 44,000 police officers and staff had been lost in England & Wales since 2010.  
  • The Home Office “has no overarching strategy for policing” 

And it wasn’t just the NAO. The following month, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) suggested that Forces were “struggling to cope” with levels of demand and warned of “dire consequences” for public safety if policing was denied the additional funding it so desperately needed. HASC members accused the Home Office of a “complete failure of leadership” when it came to policing.

Look at the violent crime figures

Violent crime is rising. And children are dying on our streets.

Look at the state of the NHS

In March 2019, Dr Rachel...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Naming Names

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Earlier this week, using a set of very carefully chosen words, Theresa May appeared to suggest that there was no connection between falling police numbers and rising violent crime.

She was wrong. 

Of course the rise in violence is not only about police numbers (there are a hugely complex combination of factors in play), but implying that there is no connection at all between those two things defies both common sense and the professional experience of thousands of police officers, my own included. 

And it isn’t the first time that she has been wrong about policing.

In 2010, in her first speech as Home Secretary to the annual Police Federation Conference, she stated that the job of the police was “nothing more, and nothing less, than to cut crime.” 

She was wrong. 

The job of the police is about so much more than just crime. It is about saving lives and finding lost children and responding to people in mental health crisis and dealing with car crashes and delivering unbearable news to families who have lost loved ones and ten...

Continues, Read More...



Police: Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

My phone has been ringing consistently in the last 24 hours – a succession of calls from journalists wanting to talk about Knife Crime, or to arrange radio and TV interviews to talk about Knife Crime. Prior commitments have meant that I’ve had to turn almost all of those requests down, but this is what I would have said given the chance:

(1) A Long Term Plan

We need a long term plan for dealing with knife crime – at least ten years, preferably twenty. We need to understand that, when problems have been a generation or more in the making, they might just take a generation or more to mend.

We have got to get beyond the relentless demand for quick fixes. The professional and effective use of police Stop & Search powers undoubtedly saves lives, but it is not the long term answer to anything.

(2) A Public Health Approach

We need to re-frame our understanding of violence, recognising that it is at least as much a public health issue as it is a crime problem. Violence is a disease that can be caught and transmitted. But...

Continues, Read More...





Latest Policecommander Stories

Choices. Or the Lack of Them.
Why We Joined
A Litany of Failure
Officer Down
The Stop & Search Debate

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