Politics have no place in policing, especially during times of coronavirus

From: Kevin MooreRetired Detective Chief Superintendent, Sussex Police, 
Kingsmead Way, Seaford

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 11:08 am
Warwickshire Police has not issued a crime alert in Kenilworth for more than a month - and a neighbourhood watch group's efforts to get an explanation have come to nothing

We are in the middle of unprecedented times as we all know. So who or what do we, the public, look to in such times? I would suggest that we crave leadership.

We look to those who instil a confidence that they know their business, someone who we can follow.

If we look back over history, some such individuals stand out in this regard. These include the likes of Sir Winston Churchill during the second world war, our own Queen and love her or loathe her, Dame Margaret Thatcher through the Falklands conflict. In the case of the police, we look to chief constables and in Sussex we have had a number who have stood out. For example, I recall the likes of Sir George Terry, Sir Roger Birch and Sir Ken Jones all of whom I served under.

As regards Sussex Police one would therefore think that in times such as these, Giles York would be readily to the fore, telling us what we should be doing and how his officers will be responding to the COVID – 19 epidemic.

Well sadly, as has been the case for years now, he seems to be content to allow the PCC, Katy Bourne to take the lead. This is an operational policing matter and therefore NOT something the PCC should be heading up. Her remit is made quite clear and is enshrined in legislation.

Her job is to hold the Chief Constable to account on our behalf as members of the Sussex public. Too often we see the face of Katy Bourne talking about operational policing matters which should and indeed must be the domain of Giles York and his senior officers.

Compare this approach then to that of our neighbouring force, Kent Police. Their PCC, a Conservative – the same of Katy Bourne – named Matthew Scott, tends to operate in the background and only comes to the fore when the matter under discussion relates to the effective running of the force. On all other occasions the Chief Constable, Alan Pughsley or his senior officers respond. This is as it should be. We don’t want or expect to see a politician standing up and discussing operational policing matters.

To be brutally frank, what does Katy Bourne know about such matters? Has she ever worked as a police officer? Has she experienced policing on the front line? No of course she hasn’t. Therefore, why is she always seemingly the Sussex Police key spokesperson on such matters? This is totally and utterly wrong!

The individual briefing the public on behalf of ANY organisation must, I would argue, have operational credibility. In times of armed conflict do we not see general or other senior officer briefing us via the media? Of course we do! Therefore, why do Sussex Police prop up Katy Bourne. You will be pleased to know that as usual I have a view as to why!

The reason good people of Sussex, is because she is an ambitious politician. She sees every issue facing the local police as an opportunity to get herself in front of the media. There can be no other reason for her constant media portrayal. Politics, I have argued many times before, has absolutely no place in policing. Policing and its operational connotations is the responsibility of the chief constable and his/her team.