Late last night I came upon a spat between a retired detective and a serving DE Superintendent. They clearly fundamentally disagreed on the subject of criticising the government.
The Superintendent tweeted that the current trend for being irate and “lambasting” the government for DESTROYING the Police Service had the opposite effect than that intended and was “embarrassing”.
My initial reaction was to think “what the hell is wrong with being irate at this government, and as for embarrassing, please, I have been far more embarrassed than that while I was serving. A large percentage of the general public still support the Police Service, so who is embarrassed? Retired officers aren’t embarrassed by it, why would we be. The general public aren’t embarrassed by it as many of them hold the same views. Front Line officers? I doubt very much that they would be embarrassed by it, they are the very ones suffering the most from government cuts but daren’t openly speak out due to the threat of disciplinary action if they do. That leaves the Superintendents Association and the Police Chiefs. They SHOULD be embarrassed because until today only a very small number of their members has spoken out against the government. They have either acquiesced by their silence or, worse, claimed that they had sufficient resources to get the job done.
Our retired detective had the temerity to challenge said Superintendent. IMHO there was nothing too aggressive about the challenge, robust but perfectly fair. The only sweary word was when retired detective said “are you going to bloody congratulate them for creating a #CrisisInPolicing?” Not exactly the language of the convent but I have heard much worse, occasionally.
Our intrepid Superintendent responded by assuming that there would now be a Twitter ‘pile on’, stated that in his view it was not his place to openly criticise the government and implied that our retired detective was swearing at him and trying to bully him. Apart from a solitary use of the bloody word I did not see any swearing and to be honest did not see any evidence of bullying or an attempt to do so.
Bullying – “use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.”
Really? Can’t see it myself.
What concerns me more is the fact that a Superintendent of Police, using an official account, shows such a lack of fortitude. I have encountered far worse during my service, from my colleagues, from my supervisors and on the streets of the Metropolis. I can only imagine what the reaction of my battle-hardened Sergeant would have bern if I had related the experience to him. It’s part of what Policing is. It is also one of my reservations about Direct Entry Inspectors and Superintendents. Here we have one who feels that somebody might be trying to bully him because he has been challenged. No serving officer is ever going to make that challenge unless they are operating under an anonymous account, but nothing wrong with a retired officer launching a challenge surely?
It possibly wasn’t the most respectful challenge, but neither does it have to be. Respect is earned, not given away in a raffle.
If the government and Police Chiefs want to have Direct Entry Inspectors and Superintendents they should EXPECT those DE officers to be challenged until they earn their spurs’.
Needless to say the DE Superintendent was supported in his comments, but what kind of situation are we arriving at if it is ’embarrassing’ to challenge the government. Maggie would have p****d herself laughing. Theresa May might think she is Maggie II but she is not. We still live in a society where we CAN challenge, so nobody should complain or be embarrassed if/when we do.
Finally, if we accept that the Police are the Public and the Public are the Police then surely the Police have a perfect right to criticise the government?