John Apter, the Chairman of the Police Federation of England & Wales – the organisation that represents over 130,000 ‘rank and file police officers – has responded to the decision by Derbyshire Constabulary to show pictures of murder victims on the forces computers.
Derbyshire Constabulary introduced the screensavers showing the faces of four murder victims who Chief Constable Rachel Swann said had been “let down” by her officers.
Reports say CC Swann told staff in a video message that “simple errors” had been made and the force’s approach was “not acceptable”.
Responding to the news in a tweet, John Apter said that the idea was ‘Poorly judged and ill conceived’, adding:
‘I understand what the intention was but there are better ways to get your message across. [I] hope the decision is reconsidered’.
Another Twitter user added:
‘Who dreamt this up at Derbyshire Police? Detectives at post mortems, CSI’s at murder scenes, Roads Policing Unit cops at fatal accidents, Family Liasion Officer’s etc.
‘These experiences remain [with you] forever & you learn to pack them away for your sanity.
‘Seemingly, the whoppers who introduced this don’t already have these images ingrained’.
Another Twitter user added:
‘I don’t need a screensaver. I really do see dead and dying people. I can still smell Grenfell.
‘I have diagnosed PTSD. My force has me on a ‘waiting list’ for counselling.
‘If this person is really doing this she will cause the suicide rate to rise even further’.
Derbyshire’s Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell said:
“Internally, we are currently running a specific week on identifying and addressing vulnerability.
“The objective of this week is to increase awareness and share learning to ensure that we continually improve our services to the public and make sure our staff and officers have access to the latest information and good practice.”
But the Derbyshire Police Federation said in a tweet:
“Derbyshire Police Federation didn’t agree with the use of the photos on Force desktops and met with the Chief Constable and told her directly because of the detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of some officers and is actually counter-productive in terms of the message.”
One serving officer, who we have chosen not to name, said:
“After attending a double murder and giving CPR to one of the victims, in front of her three children, does CC Swann really believe that I need to come to work and see that victim’s face every day?”.
Among the displayed images were Helen Hancock and Martin Griffiths, who were murdered in Duffield on New Year’s Day in 2020.
Graham Snell, who was murdered and cut into pieces by his lodger in Chesterfield in 2019, and Gracie Spinks, who died in Duckmanton in June, were also in the screensaver images.
The BBC said the Independent Office for Police Conduct noted missed opportunities in the case of Mr Snell but concluded officers could have done nothing to stop Mrs Hancock’s and Mr Griffiths’ murder.
The Telegraph said the IOPC is investigating Ms Spinks’ case.
All four victims had been in contact with the force.
Reports have been circulating online that ‘anyone who likes/comments on social media’ about the screensavers is ‘being hauled in front of senior management’
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