In the last twenty-four hours, over a quarter of a million people have read the ‘I’m done‘ post. One cop wrote to me anonymously. These are their words.
I’m done too.
I’m done with the self-appointed monitors of policing who feel it’s their place to photograph, video and (sometimes) selectively edit recordings of police doing their jobs. I’m done with people who misrepresent the truth for publicity, to self-promote and, sometimes, for mischief. I’m tired of people who value ‘likes’ on their chosen social media platform above helping a lone officer struggling to detain a violent person. I’m done with the cowards in society who would rather film a cop being beaten up than pitch in to help him or her. I’m done with people who ‘know their rights’ and who consider that (often mistaken) knowledge is sufficient justification to kick, punch and spit at police officers.
I’m done with people who tell us to do more stop-and-search in response to escalating knife crime but who then criticise us when the criminals who get caught as a result bleat about having their civil rights breached.
I’m done with criminals using the complaints system and legal process to intimidate hard working cops. Yes, that is what happens. Criminals use both to try and make it easier to continue with their activities, uninterrupted. And I’m done with the payouts made to criminals because our legal system has created a situation where firms of lawyers can tout for business, encourage civil actions and know their clients will get paid out because it’s actually cheaper for the police to do that than fight the case – regardless of the result.
I’m done with an organisation where the policy is to punish rather than forgive, to discipline rather than teach. I’m done with fearing if I make a mistake that I will be punished rather than have my employers accept I hadn’t been taught or trained as well as I should have been. And, while I’m on that subject, I’m angry too. I’m angry that Hendon, the flagship of police training, has been demolished and sold off to developers. That the swimming pool where officers were taught life-saving techniques is now gone. That the sports facilities, the gymnasiums, the canteens, even the police stations themselves are all gone. The police section houses are gone. Even New Scotland Yard was demolished and the site sold.
I’m done with being photographed and criticised – sometimes, even fined – for using a public cafe to eat when all the police canteens have gone. I’m done with having to travel across London to one of the few remaining custody suites where prisoners can be processed and where we have to wait in a huge queue to have a detained person booked in. I’m done with being asked by my supervisors not to arrest people because that means I will be off the ground, unavailable and the calls will soon build up.
I’m tired of trying to do the job to a standard the public has a right to expect but that forty-thousand more us used to be available to do. Think about that for a minute. Forty-thousand less police officers in the UK than there were ten years ago. And all because one Home Secretary considered the ‘role of the police is to fight crime, nothing more, nothing less.’ So, when I’m directing traffic, helping someone find their lost child, trying to find a missing person, supervising a demonstration or football crowd, or many of the other non-crime related roles that fall to the police, I’m reminded that one politician decided society needed less cops.
But, you know what? I’m not so tired I’m about to give up. Because I still believe in working for a better society. The reasons I became a police officer are still valid. I still want to help people. I still want to put bad people behind bars. Policing has to be accountable, I don’t know of a single colleague who doesn’t agree with that. But what I do ask is to be given the tools, the facilities, the support and the means to be able to do my job. Is that too much to ask?
Because being a cop is far more than simply fighting crime.
Thank you for taking the time to read these posts. Whether they will do any good remains to be seen. But, as we read above, police morale is dented but not beaten.
I was taught, way back in 1978, about the meaning of the word ‘police. It means, ‘generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law. It also denotes for force of peace officers, or police, employed for this purpose.’ If I recall correctly, those were the opening words from the police instruction manual of the time. Members of our police services are members of the public one day, a cop the next. Our police services police with our consent, not by coercion, as we see too often around the world. That places us in a very fortunate situation but it is one that comes with responsibilities. If we want our police to function, their role must be supported, not weakened. Because if we weaken it by too much, we are on the road to anarchy. And then we may see a style of policing result that has happened abroad and which we must not countenance here.
And, while you’re here. Can I make a special request. I’m helping an old colleague pursue a murder case. It happened in 1984 and involved the shooting of a serving WPC. You may remember it. Her name was Yvonne Fletcher. This is a link to a crowdfunding page. If you’d like to help a veteran cop secure justice for a fallen friend, please consider donating a few quid. If he reaches his target, it’ll certainly go a long way toward reminding those on the thin blue line that they are supported. We do have their backs.
Thank you. For both your support and your time.