One of the best parts of my job is giving out commendations at the Chief Constable’s Achievement Awards at Tally Ho. We try very hard to share great stories from these evenings as there is so much great work and that is just the tip of the iceberg!
Last month Parminder Hunjan and Maninder Hunjan were convicted of wounding with intent on PCs Leon Mittoo and James Willetts. I have to say the bravery by both on that day, which was graphically shown on the body cameras, was beyond extraordinary and one of the most courageous things I have seen in 32 years in policing. The determination to attack is extraordinary and the actions by both officers is incredible. They will be recognised.
It is a sober reminder to the public that whatever the imperfections in policing it is made up of some of the most amazing people. They were also both student officers.
Which brings me to some very unhelpful media coverage on student officers recently, which I found really annoying.
Ever since Robert Peel invented policing we have recruits join who, despite the best intentions, have found policing is not quite for them. There is also a regrettable tendency for older generations to opine on the standards of the new generation; the new training never quite up to the old. A US Police Chief once told me there are two things the police hate “change and the status quo”. There is something in this!
We may hear some more examples of students who are having challenges because we have more students than ever! Around 14% of the force is a student. The number who are resigning or leaving is about the same percentage we have seen for a long period of time. People are not joining just to get a degree and leave. The degree is in policing and there are much easier ways of getting a degree! Thank you to those of you who are tutors, we know you are working hard to support our students.
The faces full of pride at the attestation are the same I have seen in 32 years. Different generations bring different skills and attitudes but I am proud to call them colleagues. Just like Leon and James they put themselves in harm’s way so they deserve all our support and encouragement.
Whenever we see acts of violence we also need to consider our capabilities. We are carrying out a specific review on TASER levels. I would reiterate that TASER is not PPE and that the volume and numbers rightly need review as we grow as a force.
Which does bring me to the trigger reviews we are carrying out. With great power comes accountability. Using force and intrusive powers are the unique capabilities that we have as officers. In the past we have shown little or no supervision of how effective or well we use our skills to calm situations and act effectively; sometimes we have spent more time checking expense claims. In almost all cases the force is justifiable; but could we have improved how we dealt with the situation? Body worn video is a huge asset in helping us learn. The focus on the use of these powers on black people is important. Our legitimacy is lower in black communities and our use of force is disproportionately high so we need to look at how we can individually and collectively look to improve. In some cases officers face real danger and force use is unavoidable but there are cases where reflection on our own actions can help us. This is good positive work that is about being as professional as we can be.
Finally, the days are counting down to Commonwealth Games. We have much to do this year!