I like this picture, it reminds me how my childhood love of Noddy, Big Ears and the policeman turned. This is the image that conditioned to a five year old me, what the police force did.
A non-threatening agent of good where naughtiness was punished and justice prevailed.
And over the next fifteen years, I had little reason to change that view. My opinion of the police was probably in line with Bertie Wooster and his pals at the Drones Club who delighted in stealing copper’s helmets and paying the price with an overnight stay before being bailed out by the butler.
Dixon of Dock Green and Z-cars gave way to the Sweeney and Minder but there my faith in the incorruptibility of the police force remained. Until I moved to London in 1983 and found myself living a few yards from Railton Road in Brixton.
Even then it seemed to me that the police force was there to protect me from black violence. It was not for three or four years that I had first hand experience that the Afro-Caribbean community in Brixton were not that the enemy of the people and that the prejudice I brought to Brixton was endemic in the police.
In 1993, Stephen Lawrence was murdered and five years after that the Macpherson report revealed to the world that the metropolitan police were institutionally racist. By then I knew this to be true. But my early conditioning from school, parents and my protected life in public schools and Cambridge was deep. I assumed that whatever had perverted the met was an aberration that would right itself. It hasn’t.
In the intervening years, I have had plenty of chances to see how the Met and other of our forces were reflected through the media. TV liked to promote urban police as irredeemably corrupt (Life on Mars), and rural police as immaculately well-behaved (Midsomer Murders).
But whatever the image – Noddy- Sweeney- or these latter day depictions, the police have been men. It is only recently that we have seen female coppers on our screen and their arrival has cystallised my understanding of what is wrong with police culture – it has been and remains overwhelmingly male.
Five years ago, the Met appointed Dame Helena Cressida Dick to be its head. She had joined the police force as a constable in 1983, after graduating from Oxford. I had hopes that the first lady and the first openly gay to take the job, could make my long-awaited difference to the Met’s culture .
This week, she left with as much dignity as a woman can do in the circumstances, her position having been made “impossible” by the public utterances of the Lord Mayor.
She is said to have failed but that assumes success was possible. It now seems that the problems with London and probably British policing cannot be changed from the top, nor yet from the bottom.
My confidence in the police has gradually decreased over my six decades and ,following the hounding of Cressida Dick, it has reached a new low.
That she has been spat out at this stage is no tragedy for Dick, she has the consolation of a life ahead of her , cushioned by a good pension. But she should not retire with disgrace but with dignity and respect.
We should worry about the police, they still appear to have a major problem with prejudice and tolerate conversations between themselves that would shame employees of any organisation I have worked for. It’s not just an image problem, it’s a problem with self-awareness. The suppression of protest against them last year, following the murder of Sarah Everard by “one of our own”, showed the public a force that isn’t ready for criticism, let alone change.
If you want a properly catalogued list of evidence – read this BBC reporting.
Those who wish to pin the problems of the police at the door of Cressida Dick, ignore the weight of historical evidence that shows that what is happening today, is not a blip and will not change whoever Sadiq Khan wants in her place.
How can one person have two bosses in different political parties? When National Security is at risk how can Sadiq Khan be so irresponsible as to not discuss with the Home Secretary and the security services before playing his pollical joker card. Where have all the the Statesmen gone?
We don’t have any – only newbie’s pursuing their ‘own agenda’!
I disagree with John Mather. The balme is not with Sadiq Khan. The fault is with our incompetent, under qualified Home Secretary for not removing Ms Dick several years ago. I do not disrespect Cressida Dick but she has not done the job she was brought in to do.
I think it is a shame that Cressida Dick was just not up to the job as there is clearly still a male macho culture in the Met. But there are various failings in how she has dealt with issues. I struggle to see how her role as Gold Commander in the Jean Charles de Menezes killing was not considered a clear demonstration of failure to make decisions under extreme pressure. She blocked the modern day investigations into the Daniel Morgan killing and obstructed those investigations so inappropriately that she was named publicly as having done so. She set the wrong tone for dealing with the protesters at the Sarah Everard memorial gathering. She made a completely inappropriate intervention telling Sue Grey to redact her report and limit her investigations due to ongoing Met investigations. She has not shown leadership over the disgraceful behaviour of these WhatsApp groups that exhibit behaviour that goes against all principles of policing and public service. The failure of statesmanship is that of the hopelessly out of her depth Home Secretary. There remains systemic failings in our metropolitan police service. Cressida Dick should have gone some time ago.