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Opinion

British police won’t attend after a burglary or put officers on the street, yet spend £74k on a Director of Fairness & Belonging

The ‘woke’ approach to policing doesn’t work. It doesn’t get the job done that the public want doing. Which would you prefer: three bobbies on the beat, or an overpaid office wallah spouting about diversity and inclusion?

West Midlands Police intends to recruit an Assistant Director of Fairness and Belonging on a salary of £74,000, with a pension and health package to match. 

After 35 years in policing, at first glance, I don’t have a clue what this new job is about, and I did most of them while I was serving in the police. It must be an important one to be paid more than the salary of three new constables. After all, West Midlands’ numbers have been cut by 2,000 officers, representing a 25 percent reduction, and needs constables badly – or rather the public does.

So, what is this new person supposed to do? Once you cut through all the fluffy management speak and ‘woke’ nonsense, it appears they are to lead on diversity and inclusion. And what does that mean?

To me, it means treating everyone in your workforce as a valued member of the team, as well as making sure they all have the opportunity to contribute to the mission of the organisation to the best of their ability. In the case of the police, it means keeping ‘the Queen’s peace’ and, to quote the wording on its long-service medal, to ‘guard my people’ – or, to put it simply, to do your job as a leader, and to look after, inspire, coach and train your people, just like sergeants, inspectors and superintendents used to do when I joined the force. The constables will do the rest, protecting the public and catching the crooks.

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The public, who pay for the police, are much more specific. I spent much of my 35 years in policing listening to thousands of members of the public telling me what they expect from us. What people want is much the same as when their toilet is blocked by excrement: someone to answer their phone call for help, come quickly, and get rid of the s**t. And, ideally, to call them back later to check everything is OK. 

The police are like that plumber. If I have a problem with yobs outside my house creating a disturbance, I want them to answer my call for help, come quickly, and get rid of the little s**ts. And to call back later to check everything is OK.

When you find a good plumber, you keep their number and tell all your friends and family how good they are and recommend they use them in the future. The plumbers who do a bad job don’t get many jobs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that with the police, because the public are not so fortunate as to be able to pick and choose the good ones.

We are stuck with the police the government pays for, and these days, that’s under the guidance of ‘woke’ Home Office civil servants and politicians, totally inexperienced elected police and crime commissioners, and chief police officers and superintendents who achieve their rank and power by not rocking the boat, and by kissing butt upwards and ticking the correct diversity box.

So, what kind of police service are we now getting? Thanks to the above collection of insipid, politically correct leaders, politicians and civil servants, it’s all too often not a particularly good one. That is through no fault of most of the constables, sergeants and inspectors who, every day, come to work not knowing what they will face, or if some criminal or madman will injure them. 

I had the privilege to work with, lead and train some of the finest human beings you could hope to meet. Our street police officers and detectives are among the best in the world. Having worked in policing in Iraq, Afghanistan, the US, the Caribbean, France, Belgium, Germany and Morocco, I saw the best and the worst. We are lucky here in the UK. But, my goodness me, what a crowd we have at the top, stopping the police on the ground from doing the job we want to do and clearing up the s**t. 

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In my thousands of conversations with the public on what they need from policing, it boiled down to this as a list of priorities:

Deal with anti-social behaviour, whether by yobs in the shopping centre, a drunken lout living next door, someone parking on the pavement, graffiti on their buses and trains, stupid and inconsiderate driving, or just littering outside the fast-food shop. Of late, you can add to this anyone who recklessly breaks Covid-19 regulations. 

The next items people want dealt with are people who burgle their houses or deal drugs to young people, or who are violent bullies. They do not ever talk about terrorism or murder; that happens to someone else, you see. Sometimes, at a public meeting, black mothers might say they want something done about knife crime or mugging affecting their children, but this is only in the inner cities. 

People care only about what affects them, just as is the case when their toilet is blocked. They do not want to feel frightened or uncomfortable due to problematic youths on their street. In the same way they do not care if their emergency plumber is white, black, Asian, gay, female or disabled, they do not care what their police officer looks like. They just want to see them when they need them, and then they want them to come quickly and sort the mess out.

So, what is this Assistant Director of Fairness and Belonging going to do about that? In short, nothing. What I think such a role is intended to do is make up for the almost complete absence of police officers and staff feeling valued by their bosses and the politicians who set policy, and help police chiefs and commissioners meet some spurious Home Office target about getting more brown faces in uniform. The problem is, a few seminars and policies, or attaching a diversity check sheet to every other form of police bureaucracy, is not going to achieve that.

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FILE PHOTO.
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The only way to give the public what they want is for those in power, whether politician or police chief, to think strategically and stop knee-jerking – or knee-taking – to whatever comes across their desk next. You see, in policing, you cannot control the actions of the police from afar. Setting targets from the centre will not get an individual police officer to deliver the product the public want locally, nor will creating a new ‘woke’ Assistant Director for Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging or Wellbeing.

We, the public, can get what we want, though, if those in power can unlock the passion to serve with which every single police officer joins and empower them to do just that: to serve us, without fear or favour. 

Current systems and oversight bodies, such as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the Home Office Policing Directorate, and most police chiefs, leave me with little cause for optimism. The IOPC does all it can to scare officers into not dealing with violence or criminals. The Home Office gives them plenty of forms to fill in to keep them in the office and, so, avoid worrying about getting into trouble during an IOPC investigation. And as for the police chiefs, too many of them just keep on fiddling while Rome burns. However, they won’t get promoted by calling the fire brigade! That means they must acknowledge the problem.

God help the late-turn-shift police van driver tonight when she tries to stop a load of yobs at a street party breaking the lockdown and calls for ‘urgent assistance’ in Handsworth or Wolverhampton. Perhaps when she’s recovering in the trauma ward, she’ll take comfort when the Assistant Director for Inclusion comes to ask about her ‘wellbeing’. Or perhaps she might say to herself, as so many of her colleagues are saying now, ‘As soon as the employment situation improves, I’m off to drive a train or investigate fraud for a bank.’ 

So, when you wake up tonight, hearing strange noises downstairs, and call the police, only to be told, ‘Sorry, all our units are all committed’, you can be sure they are: committed to doing all they can to meet their diversity recruitment targets. 

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