The challenges facing policing came very much to the fore last week as I met police leaders and senior politicians to discuss a broad range of issues from health services to counter-terrorism.
It became clear that issues we are tackling in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are common to the wider service and it was reassuring that the force is “ahead of the game” in many areas.
On Monday I joined the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb in London for the launch of a cross-governmental taskforce to improve mental health services for young people and transform crisis care. They were keen to hear about the difficult decisions our officers and staff face when dealing with people in crisis. It is almost a year since I signed the Mental Health Concordat on behalf of ACPO and there remains much work to do to improve services. The advent of the mental health triage car and referral pathways developed in partnership with mental health services here have had a significant impact and are held as examples of good practice nationally.
It is apparent that challenges across the NHS and in the care system as a whole impact upon our demand, and some of those difficulties, particularly in ambulance services, have been publicised over the winter. I am working closely with the ambulance service both at a local level and nationally to address this. On Tuesday East Midlands Ambulance Service’s Director of Operations, Richard Henderson, came to Force Headquarters to brief the region’s Chief Constables and PCCs on the measures it is taking to reduce ambulance waiting times.
On Wednesday I jumped on another downbound train to London for talks with the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and colleagues from the Metropolitan Police. I know that frontline officers have experienced difficulties dealing with injured members of the public during periods of high demand for ambulances. The meeting was very positive about how we shall overcome these issues by working together better in the interests of the public.
On Thursday I was at the National Crime Agency headquarters speaking to colleagues from the Turkish National Police, many stationed near to the Turkish-Syrian border. They were fascinated by how Peel’s model of local policing, based upon the uniformed officer patrolling his or her neighbourhood, remains as relevant today as ever and is central to tackling everything from local ASB to serious organised crime and terrorism. The idea that non-warranted staff, PCSOs, Special Constables, cadets and volunteers perform core policing roles is worlds apart from policing in Turkey and was the subject of great interest. The couple of hours I spent in their company brought home to me the high esteem in which British Policing continues to be held abroad.
Finally, I leave you with sage words from a Sergeant who came to see me as he retired after 32 years in policing.
“In many ways the job has changed beyond recognition since I joined, but really deep down it’s the same. I found this Buddhist quote given to me by my tutor 30 years ago, and it’s just as relevant today really:
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”