All the People, All the Time

Last week, I was listening in as a senior Met officer suggested that they could think of no other organisation in the UK that is the subject of headline scrutiny as frequently as the Police Service.

‘Every day except Christmas day,’ they remarked.

Policing is being tested and challenged – invariably in the public domain – as never before.

Rightly so, you might say.

It set me thinking about my time working for Sir John Stevens – when he was Commissioner of the Met.

One afternoon, he walked into the office and asked my colleague and I to draw up a list of the institutions and individuals to whom, in one way or another, he was accountable.

I suspect he wanted to make a point.

I don’t have the original paperwork – but, written today, the running order looks something like this:

• The Queen
• Parliament
• The Home Affairs Select Committee
• The Home Secretary
• The Shadow Home Secretary
• The Policing Minister
• The Shadow Policing Minister
• The College of Policing
• Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies
• The Independent Police Complaints Commission
• Police & Crime Commissioners (the Mayor’s Office for Policing & Crime in London)
• The Judiciary
• The Media
• Independent Advisory Groups
• Community Police Consultative Groups
• Neighbourhood Policing Panels
• Stop & Search Monitoring Groups
• Independent Custody Visitors
• Community Safety Partnerships
• Independent Safeguarding Children Boards
• Independent Safeguarding Adult Boards
• The Surveillance Commissioner
• The Information Commissioner
• The Audit Commission
• Public Inquiries (e.g. the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry)
• Independent Inquiries (e.g. the Inquiry into undercover policing)
• The Police Federation
• The Police Superintendents Association
• Police Staff Unions
• The National Police Chiefs Council
• Internal Staff Associations
• Victims of crime and their families
• The Great British Public: the people we serve

(Personal view – it surely has to be those last two groups who matter most.)

It’s quite a list – particularly when you consider the fact that I’m almost certainly missing some names.

And here’s the thing…

They all have their own views about policing: about who we are, about what motivates us – and about what it is that we are here to do.

And they don’t all agree with one another.

Some are for us and some are against us; some consider that we need to reform in one way and some have a preference for a different way – some would pull us in one direction and some would push us in another. Some believe in us and some are deeply suspicious of us; some are relentlessly critical and some are more supportive.

But they all have a view.

And, as the wise old sage once suggested, it’s difficult to please all the people all the time.

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8 thoughts on “All the People, All the Time

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  1. We should bo back to the time when an office could clip you around the ear, and then get a clip from your dad when you told him youd got one from a copper.
    But lkke everything uouve been a victim of all the do gooders , whove taken everything too far the other way.
    I recall a time when i wS cycling home, and there but for the grace of god, and an esxex cops, excellent driving, id be dead, he picked me up, chucked my bike, in the back of his car, and took me home, my bike was grounded for a week.
    A similar thing happened a few years back to a neighbour, and instead of acting ghe way my father did, the father here (ex Rmp) asked for the pcs number to make a complaint

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly I think the Police should be accountable to local authorities NOT parliament. Then their priorities lie with the public they serve. The way it is now there are too many chiefs and not enough indians. Police morale is at a low ebb and who can be surprised. There are so many people, departments, agencies etc who all want a piece of them. Police Officers risk their lives everytime they put on a uniform and I dont think within the wider organisation/departments this is appreciated. Let the men and women who serve us do their jobs without all this beaurcratic red tape. I applaud them, they do a fantastic job so stand by them and get rid of all the agencies that dont need to be involved

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello guv’nor, I knew you at Peckham (01MM) I shall be retiring on 20/03/16 . I ask this, none of the management team has requested my exit interview which I was reliably informed that is the correct course of conduct. So nada at all. Hopefully I may get a certificate of service. I doubt it very much. Sean

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know in the past the police have been seen as a “law unto themselves”. That may once have been true. My own experience is that in recent years they have been under ever increasing scrutiny & have largely embraced and encouraged it. There will always be occasions when officers or units are more secretive/ defensive, but this should not reflect on the amazing work & dedication shown by the VAST majority officers. At the end of the day most members of the public would call on their police forces if in danger, found themselves the victims of crime, or had no idea where else to turn ( OK sometimes bizarrely or stupidly). So if the public can’t work out from that the trust and respect they must have for the Thin Blue Line how daft are they?
    I am one of those providing scrutiny in a formal sense and I will & do challenge when appropriate. To be honest the overwhelming majority of things I feel compelled to challenge are rarely to do with an officer’s or the forces’ behaviour, but processes imposed / proscribed by higher bodies. When that is not the case I have no problem actively pursuing an appropriate outcome. I have often been invited by various teams to observe, comment & critique their work and processes, and felt truly welcomed. What has surprised me most is their almost disappointment when I have concluded they are doing everything well. Not that they aren’t pleased, but that they really want to find ways to do better. Which given the frequent criticism the police at all levels face daily – externally & sadly sometimes internally – is humbling. All this in a context where the Home Secretary, media, some sections of the public they serve can apparently do nothing but criticise – and manage to ignore the woeful lack of support to frontline officers in so many ways.
    You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but my experience is the police force/officers in my area – generally – couldn’t be trying harder to do just that!

    Liked by 1 person

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