COPS 2014 – #100Cops Update

7 07 2014

Hi everyone, it is now just over two weeks before the UK COPS memorial service at the National Arboretum at Staffordshire.

The #100Cops hashtag symbolises how we would like to get at least 100 uniformed rank and file officers to the event to help form a Guard of Honour for the families.

As of this moment I have absolutely no idea how many officers are likely to turn up. Judging by the responses I have had I put the number between ten and twenty.

I have no formal plan in place for the Guard of Honour as such. This is mostly because I have no idea how many folk will come. If there aren’t enough then we can at least show our support by being there.

If enough people come then it will be a case of me lining people up and calling them to attention at a relevant point in proceedings. It will very much be determined on the day.

I am pretty sure that Simon Guilfoyle will be upset with me – 100 Cops is a target and an arbitrary one at that. It was just a number which seemed appropriate and realistic. We can do it with less.

However, if you are able to make it to the event I know it would mean a lot to the Charity and the families they support.

If you have “Number One” uniform – brilliant.
If you only have standard uniform – also brilliant.
If you are a Special Constable or PCSO – also marvellous.
Retired – then come as you are.

You can read more about the event here. The article also contains a link to the blog I wrote about the event last year.

Sincerely, I hope you can make it and I look forward to seeing you there if you can.

To give me a rough clue – could I ask you to add something in the comments below so I can gauge numbers? Even if I already know you’re coming. If you are coming with others – a total. So I have some idea and can advise the organisers and Staffordshire Specials for their Op Order.

Best wishes

NC





A Complaint About Complaints

18 06 2014

Over the last few weeks there has been much discussion on how the police handle complaints against them.

The IPCC, who themselves are no strangers to criticism over the length and quality of their investigations, have recently published a report following their review of 94 cases, in three forces, which concerned allegations of racial discrimination.

The IPCC described their findings as “stark” whilst others described them as “shallow.”

It appears that none of the 94 complaints were upheld. Whilst this is perhaps surprising, one has to question whether their sample base was deep enough to draw the conclusions that they arrived at.

There are some very disturbing examples within the report which do lead the reader to conclude that something feels “wrong” about the outcome. There are, however, 43 forces in the UK and I just wonder whether a wider look might have provided more balance. Perhaps it wouldn’t have.

The general theme of that report was that “not enough complaints are being upheld.” This is something which has been said on a far wider level and applied to police complaints more generally. It has got me wondering “why” “what is the problem” and what should be done about it.

It could simply be that none of the cases justified being upheld but there appear to be examples which contradict that finding within the report and, in any case, it is an accusation which is not going away.

For me, one of the main problems with complaints against the police is the terminology used.

Whether it is someone who is calling to express unhappiness with a response time; someone who believes they were subject to excessive force or an outright allegation of corruption they are all “complaints.”

This does little, from the outset, to differentiate the severity of the allegation. It is further compounded by the initial handling of the call.

Whether it be by phone or by personal attendance the moment someone suggests that their call or visit is about a “complaint” they are steered into a system which immediately “ups the ante.”

The call taker is likely to stop them in their tracks and tell them that this is a complaint against the police and,therefore, they MUST speak to an Inspector. They are then promised a call back or the front office staff will go and find the duty Inspector.

Maybe, during the course of a shift, I would expect to receive two or more such alerts or requests. Clearly this would indicate that there is a massive problem. Except – when you actually do return the call – you find that whilst it may very well be a “complaint” it is not a “complaint.”

Not one which would require formal recording and investigation anyway. There may well be some valid dissatisfaction which needs resolving but it is not a complaint in the sense of a “formal complaint against the police.”

If a complaint is recorded then things become very formal – even if we don’t actually want or need them to be. All the paperwork which comes back has the word “misconduct” stamped all over it.

The regulations which govern how they are investigated use the word “misconduct.”

Let us look at two definitions of that word.

The first from Wikipedia:

misconduct is a legal term meaning a wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one’s acts.

The second from the Oxford dictionary :

Unacceptable or improper behaviour, especially by an employee or professional person:

The first would qualify as an unofficial definition but suggests premeditation on the part of the wrong-doer.

The second doesn’t quite go that far but “unacceptable and improper” are stern terms which suggest a degree of forethought or indifference.

I have dealt with many complaints in my time. On occasion I have found there to be evidence of misconduct but, more often than not I have either found that the officers have acted correctly or that there has been a mistake.

To my mind there is a world of difference between “misconduct” and “mistake.”

The process used to investigate does very little to differentiate until the end. A matter may be determined as “suitable for Local Resolution” but it is still a “misconduct investigation.”

This puts the officer immediately onto a defensive footing.

Certain allegations are not suitable for Local Resolution. Allegations surrounding force are a case in point. If I wish to seek a response from the officer concerned I am required to serve them with a Regulation 15 notice which advises them of the details of the allegation and explains their rights. These are commonly called “misconduct notices” or “gross misconduct notices.”

Whilst these are important documents in that they explain the officer’s rights (and are required by Regulations) they again do little more than place the officer into an immediately defensive position.

Now, not all complaints are valid. Let me give you the example of an allegation by a person who made a false report of a robbery. They complained that the officer had failed to conduct a proper investigation. In old terms that was a “neglect of duty.”

The same person had made a similar false report of robbery the month before and the attending officers then had determined it to be false.

On the complaint occasion, the officer had attended, investigated thoroughly, found evidence which suggested a false report, called a supervisor for advice, spoken to a detective sergeant in the
Robbery team and then told the caller that they believed that the report was false. The officer had documented this thoroughly. An officer from the robbery team attended themselves and arrived at the same conclusion. The report was filed accordingly.

The complaint was made, a misconduct investigation was undertaken which was not suitable for local resolution. Reg 15 notice was served – a formal written response received and the matter was concluded with the complaint not being upheld.

The officer throughout was helpful and diligent in their responses but remained under formal investigation for misconduct. Misconduct.

Even the title Independent Police Complaints Commission is a problem for me. I wish we had something a little more… neutral, as they do in Northern Ireland. Police Ombudsman is a much better title as whilst it is absolutely right that the police are subject to independent investigation and scrutiny – not all of this arises from “complaints.”

So if the language used to define and manage complaints is so harsh and the processes so strict and formal then the matter of “outcomes” is equally unsatisfactory.

If I am investigating a complaint of misconduct there is, strictly speaking, only one of two outcomes available.
Either the officer is guilty of misconduct or they are not.

In matters where the complainant wants an apology this can make matters complicated.

If the officer has done nothing wrong then an apology is less likely. We end up with some kind of fudged apology “on behalf of the organisation” or “sorry if you feel ..”

Of course, it is possible to uphold a complaint whilst finding the officer not guilty of misconduct but this is harder to explain to a complainant than it may seem. These kind of apologies rarely satisfy.

This is made all the more complicated in cases where you can understand exactly why the complainant feels aggrieved but the officer has done nothing wrong. An example perhaps being a case where someone has been legitimately arrested as a genuine suspect but released without charge and the person complains of “unlawful arrest.”

It is also possible to have a situation where both the victim / aggrieved person and the suspect make complaints about the same incident. Perhaps for taking “too long” to arrest the suspect whilst the suspect then complains about the fact that they were arrested at all.

The fact that misconduct investigations are dealt with by the officers’ own supervisors is, I think, another source of contention. This, in itself, can lead to defensiveness and then allegations about lack of impartiality no matter how thoroughly it has been investigated.

Then there is the appeals process. I am not personally aware of any other complaints system for any other organisation where there is an automatic avenue of appeal. Given my preceding paragraph I guess it is necessary.

I have only ever had two of my investigations appealed and was slightly disconcerted by the outcome of one conversation with the IPCC investigator who was insistent that there had been “a little bit of misconduct” on the officers part. I had upheld the complaint but determined that the officer’s actions were genuine error or omission. The IPCC wanted to call this misconduct. I did ask the IPCC investigator to show me the sliding scale of degrees of misconduct but there isn’t one – so they couldn’t.

Overall, this leads to an unsatisfactory solution all around. The police complaints system is framed and worded and run as a pseudo-legal process which feels very similar to a criminal investigation. Whilst there will be times when this is necessary and appropriate it is simply not appropriate to all cases and leads to a very natural sense of defensiveness on the part of the officers concerned.

This defensiveness sometimes leads to potential withdrawal and rigid compliance with regulations. This is an understandable reaction for any human being.

The IPCC’s preferred way to deal with this is to compel officers to attend interviews, compel them to speak and to draw inferences from their refusal to do so. Whilst this is applicable in criminal cases it suggests that, when applied to an investigation into – for example a death in custody – you are starting from the position of assuming criminality.

It’s all so – adversarial.

So what is the answer?

In all honesty, I simply don’t know bit I was struck by this blog from @cate_a_moore

What Cate is suggesting is that the themes of complaints against the police aren’t always down to individuals but rather, they are manifestations of cultural or organisational failure. Cate argues that PSD departments have lost almost all credibility and that a new department should be created to examine the wider issues and promote “lessons learned” at an organisational level.

In my experience, some PSD’s already try to do this and some do seek to promote this quite actively. I suspect, from Cate’s blog, that this is not a universal thing.

From where I sit, I think the entire complaints system needs a revamp but I am not entirely sure what should replace it.

To begin with I would like there to be clearer separation between what is a complaint of misconduct and what isn’t.

I would like to see a less formal and confrontational system of dealing with complaints whilst retaining all of that formality for cases where it is truly warranted.

Some officers do do things which amount to misconduct or gross misconduct – I just don’t like the fact that almost all police complaints start from this position and work backwards.

If an officer makes a mistake and gets it wrong – as any employee in any organisation is capable of doing – can we not think of a better term than “management action” to show we have responded to it?

Some forces are now piloting Restorative Justice in their handling of complaints. I think this is worthy of further exploration. It isn’t always appropriate but I can see it as a means for the complainant to feel heard.

An RJ conference to resolve a complaint would need to be very carefully handled but it would rely on the officer not being overly defensive or recalcitrant. And for it to be made clear to the complainant that this is an opportunity to explain how the officer made them feel – not necessarily to question their operational judgement.

Even before this was suggested as a concept I have seen it work. I attended with an officer (at their request) to speak to a complainant. This officer was superb – they listened carefully to the complainant, explained their decision making and rationale and fully accepted that the complainant felt as aggrieved as they did. The officers’ explanation, however, convinced the complainant that they had been acting correctly and it was clearly an explanation which the complainant accepted.

It was one of the bravest things I have ever seen an officer do. A fine example of public service which sought to address the root cause directly. At the conclusion of the meeting it was handshakes all around and I am convinced that a lot of faith was restored.

You can’t use this approach in every case but there are many situations where it is perfectly appropriate and probably more beneficial than formal investigations using pejorative language and which will actually leave everyone feeling they have had their say.

I also think there is much work to be done with investigating officers. I have never been trained to deal with complaints – I just apply my trained investigative skills and my “human” side. I have never been taught soft skills for this. It is very much down to who I am or who I choose to be. By extension this applies to all investigating officers. Some will take this route and others might take a more aggressive / defensive stance and try to protect their officers.

There is an argument that ALL complaints against the police should be handled by someone OTHER than the police. This has merits above a certain degree of severity. It can’t be used for everything – otherwise it would be like asking Tesco to deal with a complaint about a Sainsburys member of staff. Such a body would need to be fiercely independent and neutral. It would also need to be well resourced.

This particular stream of conscience (which I shall call a blog) can be summarised thus:

I think the police complaints system is too negative, too formal (in many cases) and leads to a defensive stance from the officer concerned and possibly the investigating officer.

There are many times when full and formal are completely necessary and justified but there is currently too little to differentiate. When the only choices are “misconduct” or “gross misconduct” – I personally feel this is a lousy place to start.

I don’t feel that it adequately resolves complaints especially in cases where the officer has done nothing wrong but the complainant still feels aggrieved.

There has to be a more satisfactory way of dealing with things than there is now.





No More Chances

24 05 2014

I am going to start this blog with a warning.

It will contain MY view of what just happened at the Police Federation Conference and will, at times, be a stream of conscience.

This is not intended to try and change anyone’s mind or opinion and I suspect that many people will disagree with me.

During the course of the past few days there have been a number of interesting moments and for me, personally, there have been several significant ones – which I will come to individually.

This years conference really only had one agenda. The Normington Review.
In the weeks and days leading up to the event itself it was clear that the Federation, both as a whole and at individual Branch Board level, genuinely believed that there was quite a bit of manoeuvre within the recommendations.

A number of JBB’s had put forward Motions and potential Amendments which were scheduled for discussion.

The conference agenda had been written with this in mind and we were all briefed to expect a long night on Wednesday as the AGM section had been brought forward to allow for this debate.

As it turned out this was not necessary.

Day 1 saw the individual rank boards break into their respective groups so that issues more specific to the particular rank could be discussed.

As an Inspector, I spent the morning watching a panel discussion which included Tom Winsor, Mike Cunningham (Chief Constable), Ian Johnson (PCC) and Michael Brown (aka Mental Health Cop.)

I have to say that it was an interesting session which talked about the things which are of most concern to the Inspecting ranks. These include the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (specifically with reference to custody), dealing with vulnerable people and command resilience.

To be fair, ALL the panel made interesting contributions but the overriding theme seemed to be “we came here to raise these issues last year and nothing has changed.”

We heard a lot about all the things which are being done (by the various agencies represented by the panel) but it seemed that for all this promising talk – nothing seemed to be translating into practice and it was invisible at ground level.

Mr Winsor failed again to convince anybody of the benefits of Direct Entry and, at one point, made a very questionable comparison (which I won’t repeat here) but which actually disgusted the room. It was a very ill-judged comment but who am I to say that.

The session was interesting but I genuinely don’t know what it achieved. It seemed to provide an opportunity for the panel members to tell us things rather than the other way around. In fairness to Mike Cunningham – he did seem to be genuinely concerned and interested in the issues raised about staff welfare and morale. He assured the room that a great deal of work was about start and promised to come back next year, if invited, and update us on progress.

With the abolition of the various rank boards imminent – I don’t know if the opportunity will arise. This is actually a shame. I think there is room for rank specific discussion even if the formalities of the boards are done away with.

I can’t imagine many Constables being particularly interested in our concerns about PACE reviews (because it is not part of their role) for example.

I also want to congratulate my mate Michael for the award he was presented with by the ICC chair. It is richly deserved and I know it was a surprise but Michael has gone over and above the call of duty for years. His work has saved lives and continues to positively affect lives. It is right that he is recognised by his peers. Well done, mate.

This session was an introduction to the days ahead. I am now going to jump out of order.

The Wednesday was “keynote” speech day and we all awaited the words of the Home Secretary. First, however, we heard from Shami Chakrabarti from the human rights group Liberty.

This was one of my significant moments. For years I think I have laboured under the impression that Liberty were anti-police. I don’t have that impression now – I see it far more subtly.

Ms Chakrabarti was an impressive speaker who knew she was addressing a potentially hostile audience. I know I am not the only person who left thinking differently.

Liberty is primarily concerned about The Rule of Law. As sworn constables – so are the police. In fact, as sworn constables we are the agents by which The Rule of Law is implemented.

This is where policing by consent and the independent office of constable are so important.

We are given that authority by consent and constables are beholden solely to the law.

I have always known this and appreciated it but Ms Chakrabarti spoke about it so clearly and passionately that it resonated for me in a new way.

She outlined her concerns about Direct Entry and how it threatens the independent office of Constable. How it militarises the police and introduces an officer class.

My favourite passage was when she said that “Chief Constables should perhaps do less TV.” She continued “We don’t really want to see our politicians in uniform in a democracy.”

She had other concerns as well but I was left with the sense that, when it comes to Liberty and the Police, there is actually more that unites us than divides us.

Crucially, however, she struck me as someone who absolutely sticks to her principles but with whom it would be possible to have a professional disagreement without it becoming personal. A critical friend with whom we should probably be talking more frequently.

This is controversial point 1:

Until we realise that Liberty and other public interest groups are ‘not the enemy’ then we have a problem.

Their existence and their contribution to the debate – any debate – on policing is actually the realisation of policing by consent. We don’t have to agree – but we must listen and consider their contribution into the policing response.

To be fair to the Met, they have already taken an important step in this direction by having Liberty observers in the command and control centres during significant events which could lead to public disorder.

I will turn now to the speech given by the Home Secretary.

As I said earlier, until about 12:20pm on Wednesday those attending the conference genuinely believed that they could rewrite elements of the Normington recommendations.

In some cases the proposed changes were subtle and in others they were actually quite significant.

Having said that, there were very few people in the room who were actively resisting Normington. There was acceptance of the findings of the review and recognition of the need to adopt it in theme and spirit.

It turned out that this wasn’t going to be enough and any belief that the content could be significantly altered was misguided.

Nobody was expecting the speech the Home Secretary gave.

I am glad I was in the room when it was delivered partly because of the sense of history but also because I didn’t just see or hear it – I felt it.

The content and delivery of the speech turned about half way through. The change was sudden enough but the tone just became increasingly angry and hostile.

I am not going to enter into ANY discussion about Theresa May herself. I am going to stick to what was said and how it was said.

The Home Secretary was angry. Furious. She was actually shaking with rage at one point – it was visible.

To a room of 2000 delegates who had actually turned up with the best of intentions to reform as she wished it felt unnecessary and uncalled for.

At one point I had a TV cameraman kneeling on a step two down from me pointing the camera in my face. I had no idea whether this was being beamed to the world or not or whether it was a camera for Fed use but I was conscious of one thing.

If my reaction was being sent out across the 24 hour news channels in the middle of this speech I had to do something very deliberately – show no reaction.

No looks of disbelief; no shaking my head; no mouthed comment.

And why?

Because I realised what was happening.

The last image the police service needed now was that of a shocked, disbelieving and uncomfortable officer recoiling in his seat and shaking his head in disagreement.

This was not a warning shot to the Police Federation.

It was a laser guided nuclear bomb targeted at police culture.

It scored a direct hit and Ground Zero was that Conference room.

Of course the speech was clearly telling the delegates that nothing short of total acceptance of the Normington recommendations was good enough.

Of course it contained punitive measures such as the immediate withdrawal of public funding to the Federation.

Of course there was criticism of the Federation’s stance on wider police reform.

But it went deeper than that. Much, much deeper than that.

The list of police controversies (which just kept going) are not the fault of the Police Federation. The response to some of them has brought the Fed into disrepute but many of the incidents themselves had nothing to do with the Federation or its representatives.

The list went back into history and my immediate, defensive internal response was “but I was in school when that happened!” or “I wasn’t there!”

But it dawned on me. That IS an absolutely defensive action.

Think about it – Hillsborough happened in 1989.

I was 15 years old and in the Fourth Form at my secondary school many miles away from Sheffield or Liverpool

25 years later and I am a serving police inspector who had absolutely nothing to do with the events of that terrible and tragic day.

But….. but ….

An inquest jury attended Hillsborough Stadium yesterday. Yesterday.

25 years later and for the families of those who died or who were injured this is still not over.

And it’s not just the families. It is their friends. It is the football clubs and their supporters. It is two cities. It is the country.

We are in this position because there is an investigation into police corruption in the handling of the event and it’s aftermath. Serious allegations are being made against officers who were present at the time and many of whom still serve – some now at high ranks. Very high ranks.

This isn’t history. It is unfinished business.

And even if you think it is history – it keeps repeating itself. Over and over again.

And it isn’t just the incidents themselves. Its the police reaction to them. Sometimes the reaction is actually worse than the incident itself.

Nothing undermines trust more than a cover-up or the suspicion of a cover-up.

Every day brave and committed officers face the dangers of the worst of society on others’ behalves. That is what they joined for and that is what they do.

Meanwhile this is being consistently and persistently undermined by a never-ending narrative of allegations of corruption and malpractice.

This has not yet fully been examined. It has not yet been atoned for and it needs to be purged. Now.

THAT – was what the Home Secretary was saying. Angrily – and on behalf on an equally angry electorate – of all persuasions.

The next question would be whether it was targeted to the right audience.

Absolutely it was.

Of course I want the same message with the same tone delivered to an ACPO audience and to the Superintendents’ Association (though I know there were ACPO officers at the back of the room along with Irene Curtis, the president of the Supers’ Association.)

They need to have that “hairdryer” moment as well. We can’t give it to them – there is only one person who can.

As Federation representatives we are elected to represent our members. Not just to speak on their behalf (though that has to be our primary function) but in the context of this speech we were a representative audience.

We went there as representatives of the 120,000 officers in the federated ranks.

Mrs May was wrong when she said that we represent every police officer in the country. We do not – officers above a certain rank are represented by their own associations but there WERE representatives of all ranks in that room.

We represent them in good times and bad. On this occasion we sat there on their behalf and took a bollocking.

Think about it – with the exception of those teleported in at Superintendent level through Direct Entry – many people in that audience also represent the future leaders of the police service. If that speech doesn’t ring in their ears for the rest of their service then there is something wrong.

Yes – we were offended by the speech. Both the content and the tone. It hurt. It offended my very core on the basis that I objected so much to the insinuation that I was part of the problem.

But I AM part of the problem. I am a police officer – part of the police service and the service as a whole is the problem. Whether we like it or not.

At a micro level we positively influence those we directly deal with through professionalism, dedication, bravery and the selfless service. When we get it wrong at the micro level there are many ways it can be properly remedied but the negativity is confined to a small audience.

When we get it wrong at the macro level then the negative influence is huge. Huge and long lasting.

I believe that it was this that the Home Secretary was challenging in her speech.

As Fed reps we were the micro representing the macro. Where else is a Home Secretary going to face a captive audience of 2000 cops and deliver a message like that?

The challenge now is to decide how to become part of the solution.

If there was any belief that the recommendations could be changed to suit then this was gone by 12:30pm and the hastily convened JCC, Chairs and Secs meeting came as no surprise.

The resulting Motion which came from that meeting was the only way forward.

Some in the room felt it broke the rules – from a rule book which we were just about to tear up anyway.

We had to send a positive signal there and then that we had heard what was said. I believe we did that and in doing so might have just bought ourself enough time to retain SOME control over our own destiny.

However, I think it is clear that tolerance is in short supply and that the wriggle room within the recommendations is quite small.

The following day, one of the authors of the RSA report, Anthony Pointer, blogged that he was pleased that the Fed passed the emergency motion as “any deviance from the technical detail in the report” would have been a grave error.

This bothered me greatly. It read that we had accepted the reforms lock, stock and barrell – indeed I thought we had and was a little perplexed as Conference continued with various speakers talking about how me might alter or amend the recommendations.

I think this was the Met’s worry as well.

But, in response to some tweets I put out, the RSA did respond to me directly saying that there was room for manoeuvre with the recommendations. Which was reassuring.

Sir David Normington said he believed that it would take two years to fully explore and implement those recommendations. The Home Secretary deliberately avoided answering the question of how long we had before she would intervene. Despite her repeatedly saying “I have made it clear…” She did not make it clear. If it was clear I would have understood it but it is now down to our new Chair Steve White to seek an exact answer. We don’t want any more surprises.

I would also rather not spend another conference talking about the Police Federation. I would like next years to be about the members and the conversation with the Home Secretary (whoever it may be) to be more positive and constructive.

My final observation about the conference is more positive.

There was one session which inspired above all others. In fact – inspired is an understatement.

It was the session with Chief Superintendent Nick Adderly of Greater Manchester Police as he took us through the events leading up to, surrounding and following the murders of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone.

It’s often said about these things that it makes grown men cry. This did. I did. So did others.

As Chief Superintendent Adderly took us through events he exposed his inner self to 2000 hardened front line cops. He admitted and reflected on the mistakes he had made. He talked about how he had stood up for his people in the face of political interference. How he had supported his staff and continues to do so now. How he had taken it personally and offered his resignation.

“We had lost two officers. It happened on my watch. And that hurt.”

He spoke of the things he and his team had done to get everyone through and what struck me most was the sheer humility of the man.

He spent much of his talk praising others but it was a fascinating insight into the old adage about “the loneliness of command.”

The standing ovation at the end was spontaneous and instantaneous. It was as heartfelt as it was deserved. It clearly affected him and I hoped it showed the effect his talk had on us all.

Fortunately for me I had the privilege and honour of spending a couple of hours with Nick in a less formal setting later that night.

I had spoken to so many officers after the talk that I knew that every single one of us felt the same. I was able to tell him personally about how impactive his speech was. How it ignited in me something which I was currently losing due to the day to day grind of police work – passion.

I thanked him on behalf of us all.

The rest of the conversation should remain between he and I but I can tell you this:

Two decades in this job have taught me to question leadership (even if that is done silently or delayed.)

There are very few people I would follow without question or hesitation. Probably less than five.

Nick Adderly is one of them.

An astonishing man who I am proud to have met and who represents the absolute best of today’s senior leaders.

Others need to see his talk. Including some of his peers and I would urge Irene Curtis to consider inviting Nick to deliver the same presentation to the Supers as soon as possible. (Unless he already has of course – I don’t know.)

Overall, the Conference was an incredible experience. It was necessarily inward looking this year but I hope that this will not be the case in the future.

The Home Secretary’s speech was unpleasant and perhaps unbalanced but she was right.

The message is clear – the Federation and indeed “The Police” as a whole need to get a grip and sort themselves out. Failure to do so will lead to drastic consequences. Nobody can say we have not been warned.

No more chances.





Stormin’ Normington

17 05 2014

In 1965, Dr Bruce Tuckman published a model which explains how teams behave. I had the pleasure of learning about this at Bramshill as part of their Leadership and Teams module and I remember thinking, as we went through it, that it applied to every single team I had ever worked with.

Essentially, it describes how a team starts in chaos and then progresses through four stages (he later added a fifth in the 1970’s but I will stick with the four for now) until it reaches a point where it is fully functional and doing well.

At Stage 1 the team is highly dependent on its leader. There is little or no agreement on anything other than direction given from the leader. The team have lots of questions about their purpose and will test their leader. Processes are ignored.

At Stage 2 things aren’t much better – if anything they are worse. Decisions are difficult. People vie for position within the team and leadership is challenged. Factions can form and there will be power struggles. A team can be completely distracted by internal politics and it is time to compromise. Progress is difficult.

At Stage 3 things begin to settle down. Agreements are formed. Roles and responsibilities become clear. Decisions are made; there is delegation; the leadership is trusted and commitment and unity are strong. The team even begins to get along and possibly enjoy some social activities together.

At Stage 4 the team becomes strategically aware. They know what they are doing and why they are doing it. There is a shared vision; there is trust; the leader can lead and the team gets on with it. Goals are clear and everyone is working – together – to achieve them. The team is now a team and it is functioning well.

I would now like to introduce you to the Police Federation of England and Wales and invite you to consider – at what stage on the Tuckman model is that organisation right now?

It won’t take too much thought to identify that the Federation is squarely stuck at Stage 2 at the moment and facing something of an existential crisis.

Now I would like to point out a delicious irony which led to the title of this particular blog.

Tuckman gave these four stages a name and the word play with reality here is just wonderful (well – I think so.) Tuckman labelled the stages thus:

Forming ​– Stage 1
Storming​– Stage 2
Norming ​– Stage 3
Performing ​– Stage 4

Now – simply replace Norming – with Normington.

Sir David Normington is the man responsible for the Independent Review into the Police Federation. It was initiated at the behest of the retiring Chair, Steve Williams, and comprises of over 80 pages of mostly uncomfortable reading.

It is required reading for anyone attending this year’s Police Federation Conference next week.

Sir David has not pulled his punches in the content of his report. The evidence he and his team accumulated whilst compiling the report present the picture of an organisation which has entirely lost its way; is riddled with in-fighting and power struggles; where leadership is challenged; and where focus on mission has become almost entirely obscured by internal politics. In other words – see Stage 2 above.

Nevermind the sections on financial governance which are confusing and ugly enough – the main thrust of the report is that the Police Federation has become a completely dysfunctional outfit which has lost the trust of its members and those it deals with. It has consequently lost its voice and its credibility.

This should seriously worry anyone who wishes to represent the brave and tireless officers who comprise the Federated ranks of the Police Service of England and Wales.

Chapter 1 presents the case for change and it is compelling.

It outlines the fact that the local branches do not trust the central committee and vice versa. It points out that the three rank central committees don’t seem to get on that well either and that one central committee seems to be acting in almost complete autonomy from the rest of the organisation.

No organisation can possibly operate successfully with that level of distrust, secrecy and confused line of command.

The report states that the tactics adopted to try and resist government reform and the Winsor Reviews pretty much arose out of a complete lack of strategy. It further points out that the tactics themselves were to play the man instead of the ball, to attack and undermine and that the Federation failed entirely to present a compelling case to the public – or anyone else for that matter – that the proposed reforms were a bad idea.

The report points out that there are many within the organisation who believe that this was still the right way to go about things. That is fine except for one detail – it didn’t work. And it didn’t “not work” by a little bit – the Winsor reforms are here, we all earn less money and it has actually led to a position where officers have been imprisoned or faced with disciplinary sanctions.

More importantly it informs us that many of the members, the ones who ultimately pay for its services, are utterly disillusioned with the Federation.

At the conclusion of chapter 1, the reader is left with no doubt that things simply cannot continue in this vain. The Police Federation, as it stands, is broken and on the verge of irrelevance and oblivion.

When I first read Normington I thought it presented a compelling case for change but a questionable roadmap for achieving it. Then I realised that I was missing the point.

Sir David has not attempted to provide the Federation with guidance on how to tackle negotiations in future (other than by saying that it should be done by forward scanning, negotiation and based on evidence.)

This report is not about what the Federation should DO – it is about HOW the Federation should BE.

Without going into the detail of it – it presents a series of recommendations which are intended to streamline the structure of the organisation; increase democracy; redistribute power more fairly and professionalise some of the executive functions. Importantly, it seeks to address a number of diversity and equality issues and provides an internal discipline system which is currently lacking.

I only take issue on one aspect of it. I think it slightly over plays the “public interest” factor.

There is no doubt that the Police Federation, directly and in-directly, receives funding from the tax-payer. This amounts to several hundreds of thousands of pounds directly from the Home Office for a variety of reasons as well as officer time. At present, at least three officers will be funded by their force for full-time Federation duties. Conference and JBB meetings are taken from “duty time.”

These are generous terms and the public have every right to expect the Federation to be accountable – both financially and ethically.

But, as John Humphreys said on Radio 4 yesterday morning as he discussed the Home Affairs Select Committee report on the Federation “are we not confusing the ‘Police Federation’ with ‘The Police’”

I do not argue that the two are not inextricably linked and that the standards of behaviour from Fed Reps at all levels should echo the values of the service and mirror the Code of Ethics but – the Federation’s primary purpose is to represent its members.

There is a massive “public interest” factor but the Federation is the ONLY legitimate means for police officers to have a voice against things they might not agree with. Such are the constraints placed on individual officers and the fact that there is no right to withdraw labour the Federation must reserve the right to disagree – publicly if necessary – with something its members feel is wrong.

I am therefore slightly under-sold on the idea that the members interests and public interest are on exact equal footing. The Police Federation remains a members organisation but one which owes a great deal to the public and should never forget that.

The Federation should be open, transparent, financially sensible and honest, professional and accountable. In ways, as Sir David says, which have hitherto not been acknowledged? We should welcome this and embrace it. It is happening to every single other organisation in the country and the Federation cannot expect to be treated differently.

If members interests do slightly edge it – then the Federation needs to remember that as well. Sir David absolutely slates “communications” within the Fed and he is absolutely right. I still find it hard to comprehend that the three main figures, the Chair, the Vice-Chair and the General Secretary do not have individual Twitter accounts. There is no way for the National to communicate directly with members on the front line. This HAS to change.

Frankly the whole decision making processes, rationale and general strategy of the National Committee needs to be communicated to the front line clearly and frequently. There will be times when confidentiality is needed but it IS our business and we need to understand what is going on – and why. This was particularly true during the recent Reform period and it didn’t happen. Now, most officers are wondering what they pay their subs for and questioning “what have the Fed ever done for me?”

The next step is for them to stop paying their subs and leave. Many are considering this.

If that wasn’t warning enough that fundamental change is necessary then you only need to look at the language of the Home Affairs Select Committee and other politicians, including the Home Secretary.

It may well be “Hobson’s Choice” but the message is clear –

“Adopt Normington for yourselves – or we will impose Normington (or possibly something else you REALLY will not like).”

I don’t know about you folks but I would prefer to have some control over my own destiny. Steve Williams is the current Chair. He was democratically elected under the system some wish so desperately to preserve. He commissioned the report. We should see it through. Steve saw what was needed and what was coming and for that he deserves recognition and respect.

The Normington report is about structural changes, communication, fiscal policy and professionalising the Police Federation. It doesn’t say anywhere within it that we have to agree with everything that ACPO, the College of Policing or the Home Office say.

We are allowed to have different opinions from these other bodies but – unless we change how we do things – these opinions will not be truly inclusive or representative and they will count for nothing. Mostly because no-one will listen.

Next week’s conference is the last chance the Police Federation will have to navigate its own path. The choice is clear.

We need to get out of STORMING and into NORMING(ton) and PERFORMING.

Our members deserve no less – nor does Steve Williams – and neither does the public.





Crisis Management: A New Hope?

17 01 2014

For my first foray back into the world of blogs in a few months I would like to return to some themes I originally picked up in an earlier blog.

In Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis I discussed my thoughts on how “crises” should be managed and which agencies should be present to help manage them.

This followed a couple of incidents where, once again, people had died after police intervention in what appeared to be situations involving mental health.

These incidents remain under investigation and will not be commented on specifically here.

I watched with interest as various people rose to speak at the vigil for Mark Duggan outside Tottenham Police Station. Several of the speakers were relatives of people who had died in similar circumstances and who still feel that there has been no justice or explanation. Those matters also remain under investigation and will not be commented on specifically here.

In each of these cases there is an apparent degree of commonality and this has been discussed in Dr Jenny Holmes’ blog The Deadly Equation.

In summary it can be written like this:

MENTAL ILL-HEALTH / DISTURBED BEHAVIOUR + POLICE RESTRAINT + POLICE TRANSPORT + POLICE CELL = RISK OF DEATH

So, what are we dealing with here and how best to go about it?

Before I continue I will stress the fact that I am not a medical practitioner and I have no medical qualifications beyond basic first aid training. This blog is about questions – not answers.

In the “Making A Drama” blog I suggested that when called to a situation which appeared to involve a “crisis” that the right people with the right skill sets needed to be present.

I suggested that you needed legal, clinical and mental health experts to descend at the same time and collectively manage the situation with whichever expertise was best fitting.

I argued that the real cause of the crisis might actually need to be determined later on – it was the actual management of the crisis which was crucial and if you get it wrong people die.

Why am I raising this now?

Because we are no nearer a resolution and in the last few days I have discovered that this is a problem which is not confined to the UK and that there are some medical opinions which also think that there has to be a better way of managing these situations.

As I have stated, I am not going to discuss the specifics of any of the ongoing investigations but in each of them the police appear to have been asked to deal with someone who was behaving bizarrely and who then become violent and aggressive and requiring restraint.

In other words – all the hallmarks of Excited Delirium (ExDS).

I mentioned this is a tweet the other day and this introduced me to two new friends.

@Jo_Thomas67 who is a Senior Lecturer in Paramedic Science and Emergency Care.

And

Louis Hayes Jr , a police officer in Chicago whose “Illinois Model” website is a kind of cross between @mentalhealthcop and @SimonJGuilfoyle with a bit of me and a lot more guns.

What I learned from Louis is the ExDS is something which is a problem in the United States where it seems to be the police who have a problem recognising it.

What I learned from Jo is that there is still quite a bit of resistance from clinicians in the UK as to the existence of and how to deal with ExDS.

Interesting contrasts.

Jo was kind enough to share some material with me which, because I am sad, I found absolutely fascinating.

Excited Delirium was first medically described in the 1800′s when it was referred to as Bell’s Mania (amongst other things.)

Despite all of the names it has had over time the accounts describe the same sequence of events

“Delirium with agitation (fear, panic, shouting, violence and hyperactivity), sudden cessation of struggle, respiratory arrest and death. In the majority of cases unexpected strength and signs if hyperthermia are described as well.”

ExDS is not currently a recognised medical or psychiatric diagnosis and yet it is being referred to in coroners inquests across the world.

The condition itself may not be officially “recognised” but I can guarantee that the symptoms above will be frighteningly familiar to most front line practitioners.

One of the reports states that ExDS has gained increased public attention due to the “number of post-mortem explanations offered by medical examiners regarding the death of individuals being restrained by the police or being taken into custody.”

“Police brutality” is therefore reported or assumed.

As both @mentalhealthcop and I have observed in previous blogs we have ended up in a situation where, when presented with these symptoms, the police are left with one tactical option:

Restraint – with no obvious exit strategy.

This then leads to the Deadly Equation.

The matter is further compounded by hospitals who have “zero tolerance” policies for violent and aggressive patients (“They aren’t coming here”) and the fact that even if the current guidelines on managing MH detainees are followed patients showing symptoms of ExDS are likely to fall into the category of “wholly unmanageable” and all the guidance suggests that a police cell is where they should be taken.

I have said before that if someone is “wholly unmanageable” then the very last place they should be is in a police cell as it is likely that they will require medical intervention sooner rather than later.

What we actually need is a process which deals with Pre-Police Station or Pre-Hospital situations.

Thanks to Jo I have now read several detailed and comprehensive studies which suggest that, actually, the best way to manage cases like this is with rapid tranquilisation followed by immediate hospital admission and treatment.

I think both of the reports hail from the US where there seems to be less ethical dilemma over police officers applying restraint whilst paramedics administer sedative.

This is a legal and ethical area which would need careful consideration here. At present I would be extremely uncomfortable in expecting my officers to hold someone whilst drugs were administered. In a clinical setting we are all too frequently asked to do this – and I refuse.

However, at the roadside, during the crisis when the patient appears to be showing the signs of ExDS and is struggling violently and with superhuman strength what do I actually want?

I want a solution which doesn’t involve the use of eight police officers frantically trying to hold someone down. No matter how much safer this is (one limb each, one on the head, one observing etc) it LOOKS awful.

We know that pain compliance isn’t going to work and we know that pressure and restraint isn’t working either.

There is currently no way out of this situation. Which, I would suggest, is why officers try to get the situation “under control” and get the person to a police station where they can be further “controlled.”

This isn’t police brutality – it’s panic. It’s taking the only apparently obvious way out of a situation. The “least worst” scenario – when in fact – it is the actual worst scenario.

The case studies I have read over the past few days have been very careful to point out that sedation is not the solution to all violent and aggressive people – for the simple reason that not all violent and aggressive people are suffering with ExDS.

However, in cases where it does appear to be apparent (and I would argue that this is distinctly possible in all of the cases referred to at the start) there is a growing body of medical evidence which points out that:

1. This is a medical emergency
2. That an appropriate dose of the right sedative (which is named in the reports) can lead to rapid chemical restraint and an end to the struggling and fighting.
3. That if this is immediately followed by other medical interventions and then immediate hospitalisation and treatment it seems to work with no evident after effects.

Most importantly – the patient survives.

When I read the case studies I saw that police involvement was necessary because of the types of calls involved. This is always likely to be the case.

What differed was that it was quickly recognised for what it was, the person was tranquilised and then conveyed to hospital.

It was medical – not “criminal”.

The police cells were never considered and the patient was safely – and medically – brought out of the life threatening condition and returned to normality.

After initial sedation this process actually took a period of days as the patient was safely weaned off sedatives and their condition improved.

What this demonstrates is that physical restraint and quick conveyance to a police station is absolutely not what is needed at all. What the person needs is prolonged medical care.

The problem is that of gaining control of the patient in the first place.

At present, in the UK, this person could be refused entry to a hospital for being violent and end up in a police cell for being unmanageable.

The difference is pre-hospital treatment.

The administering of sedative in the appropriate cases by the appropriate people.

THEN the patient can be immediately taken for the medical aftercare they need.

This goes back to the right people being in the right place and working TOGETHER to resolve the crisis.

In the UK it needs further debate and, probably, a change in several laws and procedural guidelines before it can happen.

Having read what I have recently read I am more convinced than ever that it is the way forward. I stress that I am only talking here about cases of apparent ExDS.

If nothing changes then all we will continue to have is prolonged physical restraint followed by much debate about where to take people, who takes them and a list of reasons why certain places cannot accept them.

Look where that has got us in the past.





No Matter How Long It Takes

17 11 2013

Some of the comments on Twitter regarding the incident on the M42 over bridge have defied belief.

Comments have been directed at the individual brandishing him “selfish” and worse. They have also been directed at the police, criticising their handling of the matter.

Mostly this is because it has forced them to close the motorway – thereby inconveniencing many people. People have criticised the length of time it has taken to resolve (it is still ongoing at the time of writing) and some have encouraged the police to take part in some form of summary execution of the person involved. There is no other way of describing comments like “let him jump” or “push him.”

Fortunately, neither of these latter two suggestions are ones which the British police would even think of considering and I am proud to work for an organisation which puts the safety of everyone concerned first – even if it does take hours.

I think we can all reasonably expect Richard Littlejohn to postulate on the actions taken by the police so let me take this opportunity to try and counter it before it hits the papers.

We have no idea why this person has chosen to do this but they have. That is the reality and it has to be dealt with. It has to be dealt with safely.

The police have a positive obligation under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act to protect life. It’s that simple. The state MUST take action to protect life and that goes for the motorists on the road underneath as much as it does for the individual on a bridge.

The damage which could be done by any object falling from that height onto fast moving traffic does not bear thinking about. It would also increase the likelihood of more injured parties (or worse) and so allowing people to carry on thundering underneath places them at extreme risk and so – it isn’t an option.

Could the other lanes be left open? Probably not. The chances of rubbernecking are extremely high and there is no guarantee that the person will remain in one place so it is safer to close the whole road and divert.

Inconvenient? Yes
Necessary? Yes

Several people have suggested putting something underneath to break the fall and bring the situation to a more rapid conclusion. I have given this some thought and can think of a number of reasons why it is also an untenable solution.

I have discovered that Air Rescue Cushions do exist. I have found a number of websites for them and have learned that a number of fire services worldwide use them for when ladders cannot be used. It seems that the LA fire department also use them in some suicide intervention cases.

There are a few big ones but inflating them quietly would be a bit tricky. I will cover why this is important later. The other ones a quite narrow and are largely based on the premise that the person using them actually *wants* to land on them in order to escape a burning building. The landing area is pretty small and doesn’t really factor in a person who might not want to land on it.

Let us look at the situation. A standard motorway is 3 lanes plus a hard shoulder wide. Each lane is approximately 9 ft wide meaning that the width of a motorway from central reservation to hard shoulder barrier is roughly 36ft.

In order to successfully deploy an Air Rescue Cushion you would have to inflate it away from the immediate scene, rapidly get it into location and simultaneously block the person from being able to move away from it.

The only way you could do that effectively is by placing people on the “harm” side of the bridge barriers – presumably with harnesses and ropes to prevent a fall themselves. You would need to place these people at sufficient distance from the person so as not to be at immediate risk but close enough to “block” the person into the landing area of the Air Rescue Cushion below.

Diagram 1 shows a person on a bridge

20131117-054545.jpg

This person is “ideally” placed – there is no guarantee that they will be stood here.

You then need to get the “blockers” in place. I figure it would require two on the “harm” side of the bridge and at least two on the bridge to intercept if the person decides to move and try for an alternative location.

Diagram 2

20131117-060823.jpg

Prior to this you would have needed to have deployed your Air Cushion to the scene, discreetly. Then you need to inflate it, which according to the manufacturer takes a few seconds. Then you need to get it under the bridge and then you need to get it into position.

It could be theoretically possible to get it under the bridge without being seen and inflate it stealthily but the deployment of the cushion to its best location would have to be done simultaneously as the blockers take position.

Diagram 3

20131117-061127.jpg

This is quite some manoeuvre and I fear that the sight of the “blockers” going over the top of the rails could somehow “force the issue.”

If the cushion wasn’t in place then it would be a disaster.

The reasons why I think this is unviable are therefore:

1. Speed of deployment
2. Stealth of deployment
3. Co-ordination of deployment
4. “Blockers” needed on either side of the person – being on the dangerous side of the railings
5. distance required between the blockers and the person
6. Ensuring that the cushion is wide enough and the blockers well placed to prevent the person missing.

As a final reason – the diagrams show that the person is “ideally” placed on the bridge. If they are over the central reservation then you can’t deploy anything underneath anyway.

It would be an inherently dangerous operation to try and pull off. It would require immense co-ordination and the risks are massive.

Of course – if successfully deployed then it could present the person with a fait accompli and negate the risk of harm by falling or jumping but it is far from being a safe option.

The sight of people getting into place would be obvious.

I just don’t see how it could work.

If the police get it wrong then they will be responsible. I take you back to their obligation to protect life under Article 2.

The police cannot ignore the person; they cannot allow them to jump without trying to prevent it; they cannot allow motorists to carry on underneath because of the safety risk to those motorists; they cannot force the issue (and believe me – an attempt to grab the person and pull them back over is forcing the issue.)

So – given all of this – there are very few options available other than to negotiate and talk to the person concerned. Even then the outcome is not guaranteed.

Police do not simply close motorways for the sake of it. A situation like this places many people in enormous danger – it is not just about the person on the bridge.

Is there a better way? A legal way? An ethical way in which this could have been handled?

I am pretty sure – if there was – then the commanders of this incident would have taken it.

There really isn’t and until someone comes up with one then talking and attempting to negotiate a safe resolution is all we’ve got. No matter how long it takes.





How Many More?

12 11 2013

Once again policing and mental health is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Once again it’s as a result of police being called to someone behaving erratically in public – mental health issues suspected – police detain – restrain and …. stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

This time it’s Bedfordshire. Two years ago it was Avon and Somerset. Prior to that it was the Met, the West Midlands back in time force by force, incident by incident.

There is a criminal investigation ongoing regarding the most recent incident in Luton so I am going to steer well clear of speculating and commenting on the specifics.

When I read about the incident my initial reaction was “not again” but now I have had time to think about it – and get furious about it.

I had a long conversation with Inspector Michael Brown aka @mentalhealthcop today regarding the situation. I consider Michael a good and trusted friend, a mentor and an ally. The collective sounds of our heads banging on the tables in our offices could probably be heard in the next counties.

Michael then wrote this most splendid blog which is essential reading for all front line officers and supervisors. To avoid situations like those described above then follow the instructions in the blog. I cannot be clearer folks – it is absolutely critical that anyone making a detention under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 follows the tactical menu outlined in Michael’s blog.

It may not prevent the person ending up in police custody but, for damn sure, it will explore every other option first and provide a degree of protection for the detainee and the officers involved. It will save lives – and careers.

What frustrated me most during this afternoon’s conversation was the fact that we were having to have it – again.

Meanwhile, in sunny Manchester, the great and the good were busy discussing all manner of issues regarding custody and taser and restraint. Not three weeks ago I was in London discussing many of the same issues with Deputy Chief Constables and guests with the College of Policing. No doubt there will be further meetings and conferences in the coming months and years.

As utterly proud and honoured as I was to be invited to the College of Policing event (and you will no doubt remember my optimism in the blog I penned on the train home) the news from Bedfordshire was like a kick in the teeth.

The IPCC have work to do. After that the criminal courts may have work to do. Then PSD. Then the Coroner. Then the Civil Courts. This is likely to take years. Investigations are still rumbling on from several years back in other forces.

Meanwhile, the events of Luton are likely to be repeated somewhere else.

Then another force and more officers and another tragic individual’s family will go through the process all over again.

It seems to be happening – what – roughly every 18 months to 2 years and probably has been for the last 10 years or more.

The first question is this:

Are we any nearer actually doing anything about the issue?

There is no doubt that it is being discussed at a strategic level now. I have proof of that – I was there when it was discussed and it was pleasing – but this leads to the next question:

How many more conferences do we need to have before something changes?

What scares me is that this has been an issue for years. I have lost count of the number of prominent agencies and individuals and even independent commissions who have looked at this and come to the same conclusions.

The IPCC have been saying since about 2008 that a police station should not be a Place of Safety. It is now 2013.

In that time how many people have died?

How many more people need to say that the system is utterly broken before something actually changes?

Look at the circumstances of the many cases which have hit the headlines because of tragedy. How many have started with a simple call about someone running in and out of traffic? How many have then had police attend – detain – restrain and convey direct to a police station?

Where was the medical intervention? Where was the health based place of safety?

How can we have had so many carbon copy incidents without anything changing?

The problem as I see it, lies partly in the 43 force set up. What seems to be happening is that it takes a tragedy before something changes.

I know that West Mids have been on this journey post tragedy, I am sure that Avon and Somerset are travelling it and I know that Bedfordshire will very soon be taking that same painful route.

Having heard from Commander Christine Jones at the DCC event I know that the Met are also going through their own personal world of grief on the same subjects.

43 forces – 43 learning experiences. Some touched by tragedy – others not. Those so affected now doing something about it – those not yet touched maybe not yet placing it at the top of the agenda.

Meanwhile – people are dying.

Meanwhile – police officers who are being called to deal with situations way beyond their experience and training are facing criminal investigation when it all goes wrong.

Has anybody considered whether a corporate manslaughter investigation might be required for the relevant mental health trusts who may have failed to provide the adequate provision which meant that police officers had no option other than to restrain – detain and convey to custody?

I am frustrated. I am angry that Michael and I had to go over this again today. I am curious as to why the main noise on the subject seems to be coming from a few people on Twitter who, realistically, have limited influence.

Don’t get me wrong – the DCC event was hugely important and it was massively impressive to see and feel the momentum in the room. But – back in the real world – we all went home and another tragedy has occurred.

As it did 18 months before that – and 2 years before that etc etc.

It seems that the police have got the bit between their teeth on this to some extent. It is, at least, being discussed at the very highest level and there was absolutely no doubt of the sincerity with which DCC Rob Beckley wants to tackle this at a national level. Clearly Mr Beckley absolutely recognises the problems and I cannot thank and praise him enough for getting everyone together to discuss it.

I have no doubt that things WILL change – but the pace of change is frustrating. Not only is it frustrating but it is noticeable that the police are leading the charge on this.

Are we going to do this tragedy by tragedy – force by force – year by year or is it time for the most senior in the service to unite and DEMAND change. NOW!

Collectively point out why the system is broken and what needs doing about it – and – more specifically – what the NHS need to be doing about it.

This is a very dangerous business. Police officers are being placed in an impossible position and facing serious legal consequences when things, predictably, don’t go well. People are dying – not just getting injured – dying.

How many more?

How many more?

How – many – more?








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