BLOG: Protect OUR Police
This post has been taken from the Kreslu blog and was written at the time of the UK Riots. Has public opinion swung back the other way yet? You tell me.
The police are the public and the public are the police. This was one of the founding principles of the modern police service from all those years ago and one of the main reasons we can say we police by consent.
For me and many colleagues it is the reason we come to work – to protect and serve as our American colleagues put it.
I have been extremely lucky to be largely unaffected by the awful riots across the country in the last week or so. Yes I have been like many colleagues and waiting with baited breath for the criminal acts to appear in Devon and Cornwall. Members of our section have been whisked away to the big cities to police these riots leaving us to work that little bit harder in their absence but we don't mind.
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In the 90s I was trained and deployed to deal with large scale disorder so have some idea what my colleagues are doing but never anything like this so it is hard to imagine what they are facing.
However something has changed in the last couple of days for me that is a first for my career. At the start of the week I was overwhelmed as a spectator at the level of public support for our police. Now I have witnessed it first hand with many tweets of support (even for me hiding at the pointy end carrying on with business as usual). Policing Falmouth over the last two nights has been an uplifting experience. I have got annoyed inside at the stupid drunk riot jokes but this has been far outweighed by the words of support and hand shaking. I'm sure it has helped our colleagues in the troubled areas carry on doing what they are even with the background noise of cuts.
I have seen it in the House of Commons and on the media and it is to a certain degree reassuring.
Now I would like to provoke some thought and perhaps even discuss. After all isn't that the point of a blog.
What has changed? I am still policing to the same standard I always have. We are all still willing and able to face danger and even injury at the drop of a hat. As in the past we have left our friends and families behind and headed to towns and cities to protect the public we don't know and will never see again. Sadly over 100 colleagues have been injured and hope they make a full and speedy recovery but this isn't new. We are always getting injured on duty and in some cases even killed.
So what has changed? Has the media coverage of these horrific events helped? Is it because we all know someone who has been affected or lives in or near a troubled area?
Why now do MPs, the media and the public want 'robust' policing and hard sentencing in dealing with the 16 year old that has broken into a shop and stole something? Why didn't we want that done with the one last year or the year before that?
Please remember that what we are doing for you in these hard days is what we do every day and will continue to do regardless of changes in government and policy. Hopefully in the not too distant future these events will become old news and memories. Don't forget the support you had for us during these times as this is the way we can truly achieve policing by consent.
How do we maintain this idea of policing by consent? I watched some of the 'calls to arms' by our representatives in the House of Commons this week. More equipment, more laws and less come back. Is this the way forward? Can we really have the style of policing we have always had without accountability? Yes we have to use force and in order to subdue an offender the force used has to be greater than the force they offer, sometimes resulting in fatalities. It's about winning after all not a fair fight with the winner leaving.
But most of us would agree that the use of force has to justified and reasonable the same as any behaviour of a police officer. I do not know any police officer that thinks excessive use of force or incivility should go unchecked and ignored. We are not judge judy and executioner and force should be never more than is reasonable to get the job done.
The UK has long had a police service that serves and polices in the main with the community. I hope that recent events do take us too far away from this. We have the powers and equipment to do what we need to, we just need to get on with it.
Anyone notice the Hot Fuzz quote?