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.
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.
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.”