As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire part of my role is to reflect the views of the public to the police. I also have a duty to make sure that I pay attention to morale amongst all of those delivering policing within the county. It is that aspect which is giving me concern.
The recent report from the Home Affairs Select Committee concerning the Independent Police Complaints Commissionis the latest broadside fired against the police and has been reported in terms that are designed to catch headlines.
The report leaves the impression that we have a wide-scale problem with police behavior and corruption which goes largely unchecked because the police are left to investigate themselves.
I do not recognise that picture.
We demand high standards from our police officers and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, those expectations are met. I completely agree with my Chief Constable Andy Parker that when those standards are compromised the individuals concerned should be appropriately dealt with and, where appropriate, locked up.
What is completely absent at the moment is any sort of balance in the debate.
The tiny number of cases grabbing the headlines are obscuring the fact that the overwhelming majority of our 130,000 UK officers are honest, professional and doing a very good job with diminishing resources.
I am being asked by conscientious officers, on a daily basis, what they have done to deserve the treatment they are being subjected to at the moment by the Government, the Media and some Politicians.
Operation X, which I observed today, is an example of the smart, targeted work being undertaken in Warwickshire that is making a big contribution to our falling crime figures. It isn’t being excessively “pro-police” to recognise that.
Officers are like everyone else. When they do a good job they have an expectation that it will be recognised.
We should be proud of the men and women who protect all of us.
The recent and relentless criticism of our Police Officers is undermining morale, sapping confidence and not helping in the fight against crime.
I agree with the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, ( 31st December, 2012), that ‘this is a defining moment for policing and……..we need cool heads, clear thoughts and strong leadership’.
In short we need a refreshed understanding of policing in the 21st century.
The Prime Minister once made controversial remarks about ‘hugging a hoodie’.
Given the way our police are being treated at the moment, by those who should know better, perhaps we should consider hugging a constable instead?
Police and Crime Commissioner, Warwickshire