Harry Tangye has written this guest blog, a former Police Sergeant who spent 30 years on the front line (Armed Response Vehicles, TRaffic and VIP protection).
Was Cressida Dick any good at what she did?
I would only know that if I was joined to her hip for a year or so to see how she dealt with the politics that threads and strangles its way around policing nowadays.
Policing in the Met especially has turned into a monster.
They have 30,000 police officers in the Force, all getting younger and less experienced by the day and if a handful of extremely nasty incidents happen involving a small number of officers then with the mix of social media and mainstream media, it quickly turns into 30,000 officers being portrayed as out of control and losing their heads.
This is a farcical notion of course, but if the observer is getting inundated with one way negative traffic, with a biased and rather hopeless ‘Independant Office of Police Conduct’ it’s hardly surprising that that is the message the public receives.
Shame on you I say, to those who tar all those good men and women with the brush of a minority.
The Charing Cross Police Station text scandal is the latest which happened 3 years ago, involving a few individuals who needed to be weeded out but its delivery in the media and demanding the resignation of Cressida gives the officers left behind an even more impossible task, and a more dangerous one at that.
I’ve never understood demanding the resignation of a leader of a huge organisation because of the actions of a few unless that leader was aware of the scandal and permitted it to continue.
This is such short-sightedness in our modern society I find it embarrassing.
Getting rid of the experienced leader because of a scandal achieves nothing but vengeance for a few and sets up another inexperienced leader to play politics instead.
Scandals will always happen. It’s how you deal with them that is important.
I hear the misinformed shouting from critics that Cressida should have been arrested for the Jean Charles De Menezes shooting, when in fact, looking from the position of a former Armed Response Officer, operation firearms commander and Firearms Tactics Advisor, I have a very different viewpoint of the sad incident and I shall explain why.
I would have been advising someone such as Cressida when such decisions would have been made, but it was usually for other less profile incidents such as domestic disputes with weapons, drugs dealers and other armed criminals.
We should remind ourselves, 7/7 had just occurred.
On 7th July 2005, four suicide bombers blew up our London buses and underground trains killing 52 people going about their normal business and injuring 100’s more.
Two weeks later, another failed attempt and then one day after that, Cressida Dick is informed the main suspect for one of the failed bombings is making his way into the underground with a rucksack.
She will be assessing the information and intelligence she has coming in before making any tactical decision.
What is known about the suspect, any potential victims and the location and what is the subjects capability and intent for example.
All the information and intelligence she was receiving and having to trust was that this was in a time of the capital being attacked, with many civilians killed and injured, but more specifically, a man identified rightly or wrongly as the main suspect was heading towards the underground with another rucksack with the intent and capability to murder many people.
Over to you… what do you do… ?
Times ticking, you have to make a decision now… it’s the man, he has a rucksack. You do nothing, and play on ‘the safe side’.
Unfortunately, you were wrong on this occasion and 84 people are now dead and there are 150 maimed.
The review by the public enquiry shows you had all the information and intelligence and you avoided your responsibility.
You gambled the one life with all that intelligence attached to them, against the lives of all those innocent families when the intelligence was pretty hard hitting.
This wasn’t a guess after all. You are a very poor leader.
You preferred to rely on luck and good fortune and you lost along with the lives of all those innocent people.
So I applaud Cressida for her courage in decision making on the information and intelligence she had before her.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Moving on from that, Cressida Dick entered the beast of the Met as the Commissioner and had to turn this oil tanker around with its highlighted short-comings but whilst being torn between a Conservative Government and Home Secretary Priti Patel and a labour Mayor in Sadiq Khan who was changing his mind with the wind.
Stop & search for example.
When you should be independent as a police force, that’s going to be next to impossible, especially when your two bosses come from opposite poles.
So was Cressida any good?
I know for sure she was a people person, and that means a lot.
Anyone who cares about people more than careers and money is a good sort for a start. They have a good foundation to work from.
I think she was, and is a very good person, but had an impossible job to do, and things will have to change between the media and the police before they change between the public and the police.
Being judged proportionately is just as important as being judged on fact, and there’s not been a lot of either recently.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Emergency Services News
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