23 Comments

I don’t recall a Commissioner being more universally despised than Bernie Two Dads, and the competition was fierce.

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Great article - well-written, funny, and sprinkled with just the right amount of expletives. I remember deliberately spreading a rumour that Hogan-Howe had been sacked after being caught 'en-flagrante' with his horse. Sadly, it never took root.

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Spot on Dominic. Thanks for reminding me of the utterly soul destroying banality of mandatory training on NCALT/MLE. The only thing worse was a training day involving flip charts and group participation. I do miss the corporatised Met999 breakfast though...

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I once sat with a mid-ranking officer and tried to explain the benefits of a Community of Practice basis for specialised units rather than the usual hierarchical models that suppress innovation, responsibility and ownership. Their reply? ‘If I can’t exploit your good work, how am I supposed to get promoted?’

TJF.

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Apr 17Liked by Dom

I was interested in your comment about leaving decisions about local policing to the lower ranks. I was posted as a Sergeant one day in great secrecy to an ad hoc control room that I found out was going to be used in a large drugs operation in an inner city ethnically diverse area. Suffice it to say that the senior officer led planning was a mess and the wheels rapidly fell off into a major public order event, which continued for several days. The ACPO officers panicked and either withdrew or tried to micro manage, one bursting into the control room in full riot gear and shield trying to shout instructions. Luckily the Ch Insp in charge of the control room and I eventually mustered the troops, led by a particularly (peculiarly?) competent senior officer and arranged charges with task force vans down the troubled streets to clear them, which allowed withdrawal of the isolated troops and restoration of order. Some senior officers get it, letting the grunts do the job, and others don't.

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Apr 17Liked by Dom

Another great and true read Dom. I was up at CX last week and while on a break I took a walk around some of the beats I patrolled as a PC on my first posting at Cannon Row (AD). Back then sitting in a vehicle was a rarity. I walked around T Square, St James’s Park, Clive steps, along Whitehall past Horseguards where they were changing, past the South African embassy where i earned many a quid on overtime fixed point duty at the 24 hr picket that was there to release Mandela, then back towards CX. I did not see one single PC on foot, not even at Horseguards where the public were overflowing off the pavement into the road in front of oncoming traffic. When i first patrolled there you would be falling over cops, including plastic ones (Royal Parks Police). I felt so disheartened and sorry for the public who clearly are not getting the service they should be. What would your thoughts be to an American style Commissioner elected by the public? imagine, he would have to Police as the public wanted, not the politicians, you know, like we used to

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Apr 19·edited Apr 19Liked by Dom

Never served in London, but the symptoms are and were found in my old urban force area. An obsession with reorganization, first bigger divisions, then back to OCUs, then the ££cuts came, back to force-level resourcing of everything in effect and now, with a new chief his 'new' force model, in effect so far back to OCUs. Each with a Ch. Supt., even if a large city B'ham has 863k population and Solihull a leafy, larger in physical size suburb has 220k population. There is an assumption that morale will improve with each change, lo & behold it doesn't. Why do "leaders" never think if morale is far better, more will be done properly?

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Apr 18Liked by Dom

Nothing. Changes. At all. As someone who joined in 77 and left in '08 I avoided the twin delights of the Hogan Howe terror and austerity. I endured several re-organizations and initiatives. In 1977 there were four areas, each headed by a DAC (what did the Area DAC's do then?) They seemed to have no input at all into daily policing. At some time the Met moved to eight areas, with each acting as its own police force and then to five areas. To me it seemed to work 'reasonably' well. There was a degree of operational autonomy and issues could be, and were, targeted. One thing I noticed was increasing micro-management of everything. There was a particular AC who just loved his 'Diamond Groups' and 'Platinum Groups'. What this lead to was the chain of command being arced and Silver or Bronze being told to do something without the apparent knowledge of Gold.

I also believe that a lot of the problems lie with not enough front line supervisors - I understand NYPD work on a ratio of 1 PS to 6PC's but the politicians were obsessed with PC numbers to the exclusion of all else.

Auftragstaktik will only work if you have excellently trained junior ranks who are prepared, and allowed to use their initiative, instead we try to police using a set of rigid tactics and policies and woe betide anyone who deviates from them.

Policing a large city like London will always be chaotic and messy and there should be an acceptance of that, I'm not holding my breath though.

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I couldn’t agree more.

I also had my halcyon days in the 90’s. What a time to be part of a Divisional Crime Team! 👍🏻

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Apr 17Liked by Dom

Hi Dom. Quo vadis? I liked your comment "PC replied ‘what have the Commissioner and I got in common? We’ve both reached the rank we’re retiring at.’" Possibly apocryphally, there was another, less polite, version, allegedly said to a former colleague at NSY. Commissioner McNee, at the end of his service, entered a lift and engaged the plain clothes officer in chat. When he found out the officer was a DC, he said "We both have two things in common. Our ranks begin with the same letter, and we both know which direction the shit is coming from"

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Apr 17Liked by Dom

Perpetual wisdom as always can be found here. Why then isn't this shared and understood by say College of Policing ? Why is it that those able to affect positive change for collective better seem utterly unable to do so? How do Commissioner after Commissioner with few notable exceptions produce mediocrity at best and savage destruction at worst? The best systems of policing evolve, in an almost living way, that can never be centrally controlled or predicted as its too complicated and too fluid, changing almost continually. I do feel sympathy for today's street cops, their jobs are far harder than in my day and that was hard enough.

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