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How Grass Roots Front Line Policing Gave Us Police Now

Last updated on July 23rd, 2023 at 12:29 pm

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I almost apologise for banging on about Police Now. I’ll stop soon, honest.

One of the things that stretched my curiosity was “how did Police Now come to exist in the first place?”

I now think I have the answer to that, good old-fashioned Front Line coppers.

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Hogan-Who there was a group of people called the Commissioner’s 100.

The Commissioner’s 100 was an initiative whereby officers and staff with ideas for change within the Met were encouraged to put forward their proposals to senior management board members including the Commissioner.  The implication here is that they were ordinary, normal Front Line officers and staff, relatively junior in rank.

Two of their members were Detective Inspectors David Spencer and Tor Garnett who, coincidentally, went on to found Police Now.

So who kicked off the Commissioner’s 100?

According to Management Today Tor Garnett set up {and allegedly chaired} the Commissioner’s 100, a ‘frontline do-tank’ where junior officers suggest new strategies to improve policing.

So there we have it, Commissioner’s 100 (a front line do-tank)was actually set up by Tor Garnett. Who’d have thunk it? The Commissioner’s 100 went on to recommend what would become Police Now. Crikey. At the heart of everything that Police Now do are the Peelian Principles.

In 1829 Sir Robert Peel proposed the nine principles upon which policing should be built, they remain the bedrock of British policing. The 7th Principle is the oft-quoted:-

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

This is where I first begin to encounter a problem “the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen” To me this implies that the Police are ordinary members of the public, who have extra powers and paid to maintain the peace etc. No mention here of either the Police or the Public needing to have degrees or a privileged education. Some will have I agree, but by no means 100% of the public are Graduates.

Ordinary members of the public? Like Tor Garnett then. How ordinary is she? She is a graduate of Gonville and Caius Colleges, Cambridge University, having graduated with a 1st Class Honours degree in Natural Sciences. Before University she had been Head Girl at the independent Channing School in Highgate.

There is a clear picture drawn here of your average member of the public done good and joined the Met. This is clearly what the public is made of now.

Many parallels are drawn between Police Now and Teach First. Indeed they do seem to be very similar in the way they operate.

The Police Now (Leadership Development) programme will enable you to make a disproportionately positive impact on the lives of many people.  Over the 2 years you will develop your leadership and problem solving skills to help maximise that impact.

Teach First is a charity working to end educational inequality. They are building a movement of leaders who inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their full potential. They do this by supporting applicants to become influential classroom leaders through their Leadership Development Programme

The Leadership Development Programme offers a two-year, paid position in a school where you’ll teach and lead from the front, making a real difference from day one.

Teach First has Summer Institute, Police Now has Summer Academy. They both make mention of cohorts, Ambassadors and enhanced Leadership potential via their Leadership Development Programmes, together with concentrating on disadvantaged communities/neighbourhoods. Many similarities in terminology and practices.

The Vice Patron of Teach First is Dame Julia Cleverdon DCVO CBE. Amongst her other achievements in life is that she is the mother of Tor Garnett and the step-mother of Virginia Bottomley.

As you can see Tor Garnett really is just ‘one of the chaps’ from a typical British family.

None of this makes Tor Garnett a bad person of course. I am in no way saying that she is, she can’t help the circumstances of her birth or her privileged upbringing. I do question however, how this equips her to know what is best for Front Line Policing and its interactions with the Great British Public.

To insist that it is necessary to hold a 2:2 Degree (or equivalent) to enrol on a Police Now intake smacks just a little of Social Engineering to me and I fear that the combined activities of Police Now together with the College of Police’s (almost) compulsory Graduate Entry Scheme will inevitably lead us to a Police Service that no longer resembles the Public of Peel’s Principles.

As I have said before, Graduates have their place in Policing, I have never disputed that, but to engineer a system whereby it will eventually be 100% Graduate fills me with dread, and it betrays the great Robert Peel.

I have worked alongside Graduates in my service. Some have been exceptionally good and I would work with or under them any time. Conversely some were exceptionally bad.

Can you just picture for one moment a Team of Oxbridge Graduates on a Level 2 PSU, all dressed up in their fire resistant overalls and Nato helmets facing a rock, bottle and petrol bomb-throwing horde? Or a simple Saturday night fight at a tasty boozer, rolling around in the sawdust? Some will rise to the occasion and some won’t, but I wouldn’t want to be there waiting for the percentages to become clear. Practical Policing is a dirty business and needs far more than merely the best available supervisors, products of an elite recruitment system.

You’ll no doubt be pleased to know that this will probably be my final chapter on the subject of Police Now, but they do trouble me (and others) deeply, and what I can only describe as Social Engineering. They, and the College, are changing the Social profile of the Police Service and moving it further away from that of the Public.

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2 thoughts on “How Grass Roots Front Line Policing Gave Us Police Now”

  1. Why is it that you, a lowly pleb, can whack these nails on their heads repeatedly, yet no investigative journalist (do we even still have any?) seems even to be able to pick up as mich as a tack hammer on the subject? It’s enough to make a person think there’s some sort of collusion or orchestrated avoidance going on somewhere. Perish the thought!

    1. RetiredAndAngry

      Thank you Trevor. I have long since interpreted the lack of opposition from NPCC types (unless they are about to retire) as an indication that they are either party to events such as this, or being pressured from above. U fortunately I don’t have the evidence to support that, but the lack of critical comment from NPCC supporting the grass roots is quite deafening.

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