Police leaders and resignations

In 2008, Sir Ian Blair, then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, resigned and there was a consequent sigh of relief throughout policing. He had clung to office for so long that his tenacity had become an embarrassment and that had threatened the public’s often fragile respect for the police. When Sir Paul Stephenson, Blair’s successor, resigned on Sunday 17 July, citing the ‘distraction’ which criticism of him would cause the Metropolitan Police, there was, by contrast, considerable dismay and regret. Actually, his action is typical of the man; his honesty and strong sense of public probity would not have allowed him to continue if he felt that he had himself become the story.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), known in policing as “the twenty/twenty hindsight brigade”, is investigating allegations against the former Commissioner, so it’s probably premature to come to any conclusions about the ethics of the relationship between police leaders and senior editorial staff at The News of the World, as it also may be about the wider question of newspapers paying police officers for information. Now Assistant Commissioner John Yates has also resigned (18th July), citing similar reasons to Sir Paul’s for his departure, after a week of heavy pressure and publicity. Two former chief officers at the Met, Andy Hayman and Peter Clarke, are also in the frame for the IPCC to look at.

This all seems to lend substance to media claims that policing is in crisis and that the police are led by inept, malign or naïve people. But there are some things we would do well to bear in mind: first, the Met is not the police. It likes to think it is sometimes, because it has some national roles, but policing is more than what happens in London. The second point is that policing goes on, whoever is at the top. Someone will step in and mind the shop, while the police go about their daily, routine, necessary and unglamorous tasks. The third point to make is that none of the allegations against any of the police leaders is yet proved and the cloud of speculation may be as evanescent as mist before sunrise.

The final point is this: when I did my research a year or so ago on chief police officers, what came across most strongly to me was that people at the top of policing cared very much about the image of the police and about how the public perceived them. It really matters to them that they are trusted and that people can rely on their fairness and neutrality. This relationship is not something that any good cop would willingly put at risk and we would be daft to join the current feeding frenzy engendered by the media and politicians – neither of which trades comes anywhere near policing in the public’s sense of moral worth.

Bryn Caless is the author of the forthcoming Policing at the top (September) which can be ordered at 20% discount here: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447300151

0 Responses to “Police leaders and resignations”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates


Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

The work on the Policy Press blog is licensed under a Creative Commons licence.