Context is everything. It can completely change one’s understanding of an event or comment.
Many things have been said over the past few days about the (in)actions of Acting Commissioner Sir Craig Mackey during and after the terrible events on Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster.
Many commentators have called him “Coward”, indeed, initially, I had some sympathy with that argument. Having given it a great deal of thought over the past few days, and listened to the opinions of many others, I find that I have shifted my position somewhat.
The events of that awful day have been recounted many times, and I don’t need to go over them again, but certain actions, or inactions maybe do bear further scrutiny.
Sir Craig Mackey, the Acting Commissioner, was ‘out and about’ without his Personal Protective Equipment and no radio. Really? He may well not have had any PPE but no radio? Really? That must be the only car in the Met’s fleet that doesn’t have a radio hard-wired into it. I’m reasonably certain that he would have had a mobile phone with him too. He might not have been very far away from New Scotland Yard but I’m sure the Commissioner does not go out and is not contactable in case of emergency. That does not make sense.
Sir Craig Mackey was concerned for the well-being of the two other people in his car, both civilians it would seem. Maybe he was, but I’m not convinced that locking themselves in served any truly useful purpose. Why has the inquest not heard from these two persons? If Sir Craig was such a significant witness then surely one or both of them must have seen something? Why not give that evidence to the inquest?
Had Sir Craig Mackey actually got out of his car there was nothing he could have done? Possibly so, but that in itself is not a reason to stay in his car. The main reason that he should have got out of his car, in my humble opinion, is that he had just witnessed one of his officers being violently assaulted. It is entirely possible that Sir Craig was unaware that his officer was indeed mortally wounded. He should have had a First Aid Kit in his car. Human compassion for the fallen officer should have propelled him from the car to assess whether he could assist the officer, or whether he could comfort the officer.
He was told to sit in his car by a PC? No Commissioner in my experience has ever taken orders from a Constable. Had he wanted to get out of his car he could have done.
It was necessary for him to take command/control of events back at NSY? No Commissioner ever takes hands-on control of any incident or operation, they have people to do that for them.
In August 1976 the then Commissioner, Sir Robert Mark, appeared on the Front Line of the carnage following the Notting Hill Carnival. To take control? No, to show solidarity with his troops.
Cowardice? No, probably not. I have changed my opinion on that and the events outlined above probably don’t amount to cowardice. What they do add up to, again, in my humble opinion, is a monumental lack of LEADERSHIP. Sir Craig has only recently bern Knighted, what was that for? Leadership?
In a citation he is commended for reducing stop and search by 70 per cent while doubling the arrest rate and overseeing a dramatic improvement in the recruitment of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Hardly for Leadership.
It could also be interpreted that he did not oppose the government’s cuts to Policing vehemently enough;
The MPS has already made £600 million in savings and faces another £400 million by 2020.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey told the Budget and Performance Committee that although the MPS is currently sufficiently resourced, further assessment would be needed should present demand continue.
That’s not Leadership in my book. He could have opposed the cuts, but in my eyes he just rolled over and accepted their inevitability, saying that the Met currently had sufficient resources. Really? I, and the people I talk to, am not seeing that.
The worst example of Leadership since the Charge of the Light Brigade. Well, maybe not exactly, but it’s up there.