Chief’s Week – w/c 13th April 2015

Code of a Killer

When Isaac Newton was asked to explain his ability to progress his science he wrote to his friend Robert Hooke, “If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of giants”.  It is a quote that I regularly use when I speak (although attribute it to Oasis for younger audiences!). Any of us who watched ITVs ‘Code of a Killer’ will have seen something of the positive legacy that the police have inherited from those who went before us.

If you have not watched the programme then I would suggest that you dig it out on ITV Player. Of course the fact that one of the main characters, Retired Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker, is someone that I see regularly in his role as Vice-Chairman of the National Association Of Retired Police Officers (NARPO), made the programme all the more gripping. In fact David Chaired the NARPO AGM this week; ‘NARPO-as seen on TV!’ Thus I have seen David since the programme was broadcast and have pointed out to him that in the years since he retired, in 1995, he seems to have lost a Birmingham accent and about six inches of height!

David received a Queen’s Police Medal for his distinguished career; he served over 40 years with the Force. The work of David and his team revolutionised how investigation has taken place ever since. Everything we do today around DNA testing in terms of criminal investigation goes back to David’s decision to contact Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys on a hunch that something he had read about DNA and paternity in the Leicester Mercury could offer him the opportunity to catch the killer of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth. The investigation described in ‘Code of a Killer’ was the first time that DNA was used in a criminal investigation and criminal prosecution in the United Kingdom.

During my time at Leicestershire I have also had the privilege of sitting with, speaking to and speaking at the ceremony at Leicester University that acknowledged the work of Sir Alec Jeffreys. I think that the story still has massive resonance for us today.  It tells us that policing is a complex business. It tells us that the world changes and that we have to move with the times and respond to those changes.  It also tells us that by working as a team we can solve many problems, and that sometimes doing things differently is as important as doing what we have always done and doing it well.

What struck me watching the programme was that, for all of the brilliance of the science, the committed team effort of police officers, staff, scientists and communications professionals brought to justice a man who may otherwise have evaded that justice. I also found it very powerful that the first thing that the DNA achieved was ruling out somebody who had actually made an admission to something that he had not done. It is interesting to think how we would deal with such a crime these days.  The most obvious thought is that the DNA of the offender would already have been on the National DNA database because of his offending history.

Our team now would include Contact Management, Patrol and Resolution Teams, Dedicated Neighbourhood Teams, Major Crime Detectives, Forensic Teams, HOLMES trained staff, Family Liaison Officers, Exhibits and Disclosure Teams, Witness Care staff and a CJ Team who would be drawn from the Force and from the East Midlands Collaboration The team work would be pretty fundamental to any significant achievement in bringing someone to justice.

Identification Unit

In the course of an extraordinarily busy week I am sure there were many other things that I did that may get a mention in other rather steadier times!  I would, however, highlight to you the excellent work of the Identification Unit. We hosted a visit from the Home Office to look at facial identification technology in the context of the very important ongoing review of its use.

As well as highlighting the speed and efficiency of our technology and sharing some examples where we have brought people to justice more speedily than may otherwise have been possible, we were also able to discuss the ethics of the process that we are going through. For instance we currently retain and use un-convicted photographs as we believe that the legislation (PACE) allows us to do so. This will clearly be an important aspect of the review and I was pleased to be able to support the excellent work of the team by explaining my thoughts about how facial ID fits into policing in a digital age.

Op Tiger

The month of March came to a close with another Op Tiger success story. Thank you to all officers and staff for their efforts during the fortnight of sustained proactive policing activity which saw some great results.  During the two weeks a total of 54 arrests were made, 15 warrants executed, 303 intelligence log submitted and a significant amount of drugs and stolen property recovered – clearly making a real impact.

A substantial amount of work also took place within local communities to provide reassurance and crime prevention advice, demonstrating that we are tackling the issues that matter most to them. Officers and staff also made great use of social media to relay the positive messages of the operation.

The key principles of Operation Tiger is about being proactive and on the front foot tackling crime and these principles still stand even when weeks of planned intense activity aren’t happening.

Congratulations Rachel Swann

Finally I am thrilled to announce that Rachel Swann has been successful in her attempt to become an Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) in Northamptonshire. Rachel has spent her whole career in Leicestershire and has thoroughly earned her promotion to ACC in Northamptonshire.

Rachel led the change team, headed up many operational incidents including the security of the British Olympic Team for 2012 and the Torch Relay, as well as dealing with the disorder of 2011. I know that many colleagues see Rachel as a role model and her approachable and professional approach will be missed by us here.

Our loss is the public of Northamptonshire’s gain. I am delighted for her and pleased that she will remain working with us through the East Midlands collaboration projects.

Speaking on her appointment Rachel said: “I will be very sad to leave Leicestershire after 20 years. It’s a really good force and I have worked with many good people who have made it an enjoyable experience. However, I am sure I will be a regular visitor to the force as the East Midlands forces work so closely together.”

Chief’s Week – w/c 6th April 2015

Mental Health and Policing

Mental health and policing is an area of work I deem very important. The Mental Health Triage Car has achieved some fantastic results and as of last week has received international acclaim. A Canadian TV company have heard about the work that we do here in Leicestershire and are making a documentary to illustrate the differences between the UK and Canada. The crew were out filming with PC Jag Sangha in the Mental Health Triage Car on Wednesday night and I was then interviewed by them on Thursday. To date we are using section 136 of the Mental Health Act 66% less than we were in 2012.

PCSO Rnajit Sonigra receiving his PCSO of the Year awardMore international fame for Leicestershire Police…

PCSO Ranjit Sonigra was awarded runner up PCSO of the Year last month; he has already cooked a celebratory (and delicious) curry for everyone at Spinney Hill and has now achieved further acclaim after being featured in a newspaper in India. He is clearly very proud of his job and his family are immensely proud to see him recognised for it.

Project Tally Ho!

This week has seen Michelle Wilson and Hayley Small earn some well-deserved praise for the work that they do around the Prevent agenda. They organised a women’s event in the Highfields area which included inputs on safer giving to charities and a survivor’s account of Female Genital Multilation as well as expert advice from Sarah Simons, a Cardiff University academic on the pivotal role of women in countering violent extremism.

“The women in this community are truly blessed and lucky to have such a wonderful team within our police force who truly care for this community. If it wasn’t for this event, I don’t think people in the community would be aware of what help and support is out there especially within our local police.”

Excellent work!

Chief’s Week – 30th March 2015

I hope that you were able to spend some time relaxing across Easter. As ever our work continued 24/7 whatever else is going on. Thanks to all the officers and staff who were on duty over the extended weekend dealing with some complex issues, and protecting local people. I found myself working supporting some of our investigation teams.

180th birthday

Old Leicestershire Police officers and carA very important date for us as a Force is 11th February 1836. On that day the very first officers deployed to police Leicester went out on the beat for the first time. Our HQ was the Guildhall, and top hats were the dress code! That means that 2016 is our 180th birthday. We will be acknowledging this with some events, and a charity initiative.

Collaboration 2015

Collaboration 2015 was the topic of a meeting held at HQ last week. All the East Midlands PCCs and Chiefs explored what opportunities we have now, especially as a new software request rolls out into four forces. Our work will be supported by, amongst others, Chief Superintendent Jason Masters who has returned from a career break. It was good to welcome him back from the private sector.

Health partnership

Our work with health remains important. Last week I met with Peter Miller, the Chief Executive of the NHS partnership trust that provides community health and mental health services. We agreed that we have achieved a lot, not least the triage car, but that there is more to do. Superintendent Adam Streets has done some great work for us on mental health. It is such an important area that our focus will remain, supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner. Alex Crisp, from his office, has successfully got a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study policing and mental health in the USA, and bring back any learning to us.

Together with Assistant Chief Constable Phil Kay, I met with the Chief Executive of the Leicester Hospitals to discuss demand management. It was a very positive discussion and, with the Fire and East Midlands Ambulance Services, we will be working together to increase the effectiveness of our ways of working in partnership. We will focus on overall demand, but that will include looking at how to deal better with missing people reported from hospitals.

Disability hate crime

I would also like to stress the importance of our response to disability issues, in particular, disability hate crime. It is an offence that remains under reported, and we must identify victims so that we can support them effectively. My national work on disability includes work on:

  • Autism
  • Dementia
  • Accessibility.

NPCC logoThat national work now belongs to the National Police Chiefs Council, which has replaced ACPO as of April 1 2015. The NPCC will coordinate operational responses to policing issues. It will be headed by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, who was chief for Thames Valley.

Chief’s Week – w/c 23rd March 2015

King Richard III’s reinterment

The focus of last week was of course the reinterment of King Richard III. With the eyes of the world watching on Sunday, the King’s remains travelled from Fenn Lane Farm in Upton – where he is thought to have died, and on through the county eventually arriving in the city centre. His body then lay in state at Leicester Cathedral until Thursday’s reinterment.

I don’t think any of us could have estimated how many people would have visited the cathedral and the city last week – there were queues of up to 4 hours!

PCSO Janer Elton at Leicester CathedralThe city centre DNT did a brilliant job of engaging with the crowds and the overall policing of the events from officers all over the county was fantastic. Here is one such colleague, PCSO Jane Elton proudly keeping Benedict Cumberbatch safe!

I was also proud to have been able to represent the organisation alongside Sir Clive Loader at the reinterment on Thursday and the reveal on Friday.

ACC Phil Kay and Chief Inspector Steve Potter who have been planning the policing of this event for months were also at the reveal on Friday. I was grabbed and asked for my reactions as I left the Cathedral; it gave me the opportunity to say thank you to all who were involved.

You can view our social media activity for #RichardReburied on our Storify page

Chief Constable’s Awards

Another reason to be proud last week was the Chief Constable’s Award Ceremony. I was able to present several awards to officers and members of the public from long service thanks, to acts of bravery. One recipient flew from India to accept his award for saving the life of a colleague attacked by an axe man as the Head of the Namdari group worshipped with his followers in Leicester.

On the subject of awards ACC Phil Kay received the honour of being named Midland’s top ‘Straight Ally’ by Stonewall on Wednesday evening. The force also received recognition for their work with the LGBT communities and other emergency services in the formation of the 999 LGBT Network. Well done to all involved.Fireworks on Leicester Cathedral at Leicester Glows

Leicester Glows

The Leicester Glows celebration was fantastic, and I attended with my family. As well as policing the event I saw many off duty colleagues enjoying promenading through the packed streets.

Clueless on BBC Radio Leicester Julie - Clueless

On Sunday I welcomed Radio Leicester’s ‘Clueless’ Show to HQ. They found themselves admiring our truncheons and tip staves, before joining Kim Attwood and Police Dog Star in the kennels.


Chief’s Week – w/c 16th March 2015

King Richard III’s reintermentCity Police Officers and horses

Day one of the reinterment of King Richard III took place on Sunday 22nd March, 2015 and the whole day was fantastic. I, along with thousands of other people, watched the cortege travel through Leicester and Leicestershire. Outside The Curve theatre, the crowd fell silent in respect as they passed by, and people threw white roses onto the coffin.  The atmosphere was electric. I grew up in Market Bosworth and the story of KRIII was part of my childhood, I never dreamed of seeing such events here in Leicester.

The cortege left the University of Leicester and travelled to Fenn Lane Farm.  From there it moved through the villages of Dadlington, Sutton Cheney, The Battle of Bosworth Heritage Centre, Market Bosworth, Newbold Verdon and Desford before arriving into the City Centre.  Thousands of people came out to witness this unique event.City Police Officers and horses at the Curve

Again the work of Leicestershire Police and our partners provided excellent support for such an event. So many people volunteered and gave up their own time to support the policing operation. Without the support of you all we could not have run this operation so smoothly.  I would like to thank each and every one of you. I must single out the many Special Constables who supported the work, and also the tireless efforts of the planning team led by CI Steve Potter.  Social media was very busy with #richardreburied giving a live time feed too, which we must think of in relation to other operational policing challenges.

The comments I have received from the public show the planning and hard work paid off.

‘Lots of richly deserved praise for @leicspolice on social media tonight. Great job all, discreet yet clearly present, a tough balance struck.’

‘Thank you for such fantastic support from your team in #MarketBosworth today over 7000 souls kept safe and happy #community.’Queues at the Cathedral

The pictures show the view I had from the Curve theatre on Sunday (22nd March). The queue to view the coffin that that formed on Monday morning (23rd March), was winding its way through the Cathedral to the Lanes!

Chief’s Week – w/c 9th March 2015

The last week has provided some fantastic news for three of our colleagues who contribute to the future of the Police service, and our organisation in particular.

Monday – Fast Track programme

The week started with the excellent news that both Sgt Emma Maxwell and DS Helen Woodbridge-Swann had been successful at the National Assessment Centre for the Fast Track programme. Friday was graduation day for Rachel Swann after three long months on the Strategic Command Course.Simon Cole and Rachel Swann

All three have worked fantastically hard to get to this point and I wish them the very best for the next stage of their careers.

The Prince’s Trust has recently advertised for Assistant Team Leaders to support work with groups of young people. This is a really good opportunity for us all. Chief Inspector Chris Conrad has written to me to thank all our staff that took part in the practical sessions last week and also Caroline Neal for her work in setting the event up.

Tuesday/Wednesday – Police Advisory Group on Race and Equality and the Youth Commission

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I met with the Police Advisory Group on Race and Equality and the Youth Commission respectively to take questions on a range of topics, including Stop Search and how police engage with young people. We also discussed the PREVENT programme.

Thursday – Home Affairs Select Committee International Drugs Conference

Also on Thursday I was invited to the Home Affairs Select Committee International Drugs Conference in Cambridge. This was an informative day hearing from various speakers around harm reduction and discussing how the various agencies need to identify and work with those at risk from the perils of drugs rather than criminalising all. Our work on stop and search was highlighted in relation to drugs searches.

Leicestershire Police rugby team and charity efforts Leicestershire Police rugby team

I was very proud of the Leicestershire Police rugby team (@Leicpolicerugby) on Wednesday night in reaching the first national semi-final since 1974. The game was hosted by Coalville RFC, and drew a large crowd. We battled hard against a well drilled team from South Wales, eventually going down 33-5.

I have previously mentioned the charity quiz set up to remember the late Tony Merriman; I was really pleased to hear from Sheila Merriman and how much it meant to her family to see so many people at the recent event which raised £2,260 for LOROS. This means not only have they reached the target of £15,000 but exceeded it. Fundraising now stands at £16,019. I  am told that, as a last act before heading to work for EMSOU, Detective Chief Superintendent Stu Prior helped his team greatly by insisting that Sigourney Weaver played Princess Leia in Alien! Luckily Stu is better at policing than he is at quizzes. I wish him well at EMSOU; he has been an absolute star here in Leicestershire.

Chief’s Week – w/c 2nd March 2015

Much of the past week has been spent promoting the work we do around young people and mental health.

Monday – Transition to Adulthood (T2A)

On Monday I was invited to speak at the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) convention. T2A is both a programme of work and a campaign for change steered by an independent chair and 14 leading health, youth and justice charities in the UK. Young adults are an important priority group for the police, both as victims of crime and perpetrators, research has shown that young adults’ importance to the night-time economy and stop and search means that they require a distinct approach.

As the ACPO lead on local policing and partnerships, I was able to give my perspective on what sort of operational police approach there should be to young adults. This emphasised our work Photo of Chief Constable Simon Cole of Leicestershire Police and MP Nick Clegg on LBCon the Young Adults Programme, supported by the PCC. Grace Strong, from the Community Rehabilitation Company (probation in old money!) here in Leicestershire also spoke about our work across the force with partners.

The day was rounded off by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg interviewing me at LBC studios in Leicester Square! This was a rather unusual media request and continued the subject of policing mental health

Tuesday – Out and about

Tuesday was really useful to be out and about at Beaumont Shopping centre with, PC Joe Postlethwaite and the PCC, listening to concerns raised by victims of crime but also receiving lots of positive feedback about the work our staff are involved with.‎ I was able to hear for myself the work of Youth Police Advisory Group in Force when the PCC and I met with them. They observe our training and improve how we work, enabling communication around what we do and how we interact with young people and reflect the approach of our other independent advisory groups for disability, LGBT and the Police Advisory Group for Race and Equality.

The Strategic Command Course for senior officers is nearing its end at Sunningdale with graduation only a week away.

Thursday/Friday – Mental Health

On Thursday I was invited to present along with Inspector Michael Brown of the College of Policing, AKA Mental Health Cop (@mentalhealthcop), during the partnerships week. Our presentations discussed policing in mental health and disability and highlighted ‎much of our work on triage and liaison and diversion too.

This theme continued into Friday when I was at Admiralty House attending the launch of the Blue Light Programme. The launch was attended by senior leaders representing emergency service employers, trade unions, peer associations, support organisations and government. As Leicestershire Police have recently signed the Time to Change pledge, they were keen to showcase us as an example of best practice. I was able to say why we signed the Time to Change pledge, the impact of the action plan on the Force’s approach to mental health and why it is important for other emergency service organisations to sign the pledge.

The Blue Light pledge is aimed at the estimated quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services who are at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to get support.