The moment of truth

It is not the first time that a senior police leader has resigned following political pressure and it will surely not be the last. In the past couple of years since I left policing I have watched with renewed interest what has happened within policing and not just in the Metropolitan Police. These have been testing times for the police as they have for all public services. But it is clear that something more than the pandemic has affected policing.

Policing fundamentally relies on the support of local people and this is not something that is a given. It requires trust and confidence to exist and this is what appears to have been eroding in recent years. There is a disconnect that has been created between the people they are serving and those given the responsibility of keeping communities safe. The reasons why are probably many, from the impact of many years of cuts through to inspection regimes that have led to a focus on process rather than people.

It was only when I stepped outside of policing that I started to see what I had been missing. I had become institutionalised and that leads to feeling defensive and making poor decisions. I can see now that listening to people and ensuring the public voice is heard within policing should be happening. There are lots of frontline officers that are listening and that do try to respond to people’s concerns. But over a period of years leaders have become more distant and frontline officers more stretched and pressured.

People may see what I have just said as defensive and looking to support things that should never be supported. It is not. We have seen some horrendous events, issues and situations. The situation at Charing Cross police station was totally unacceptable. Attempting to make it an isolated incident involving ‘a few bad apples’ as is often said is wrong. Twenty years ago there were sexist and misogynistic views that I experienced within policing. It wasn’t every day thankfully and it made me want to fight back and be stronger than those people thought I could be. But that isn’t how many will deal with these situations and police services lose good people in unacceptable ways.

This is a crisis moment for policing. But is also an opportunity for significant change that will lead to a stronger and more responsive police service. A police service that is open for everyone and where those who really care about the local people are able to give their best. A police service that sees modern and progressive leaders rise to the top. A police service that can rebuild trust and confidence by working alongside the people they are there to protect. To do this the police leaders need to do less talking and more listening, and to welcome the chance to change.

This entry was posted in communication, crime, crisis communication, police, policing, reputation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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