Having been here nearly six months things have begun to settle a bit now. We are fortunate that we have had a small gap between large events which has allowed us to focus on a key piece of work to fully understand the capacity and capability of specialist UK police roles. Everyone recognises the importance of knowing this information but the task is a big one. More to say on that in a moment.
UK Disaster Victim Identification (UK DVI) also now sits within NPoCC and my colleagues in this unit have been extremely busy with the very challenging work around the MH17 Malaysian Airlines disaster in the Ukraine. Again, more on that a little later.
I really want to start by looking back on 2014. NPoCC has yet to have its second birthday and despite all of its successes in helping support policing operations of large events, we are still finding our way in the policing and political landscape. I am keen to stress that we are at the beginning of the journey of UK police coordination and it will take time for NPoCC to fully evolve. 2014 was a huge year for us and the service as a whole stepped up, as it always does, to meet national demands.
So what did we get up to in 2014?
None of this would have been possible without creating good solid relationships with all our partners and part of my goal is to continue to strengthen these in order to provide a solid platform for the work we do.
Most noticeable for me is just how much day to day mobilisation is taking place across the UK. It isn’t just the obvious areas, such as public order policing; but a huge raft of specialist policing areas. This can be viewed in two ways, not enough to go round or an efficient way to use limited specialist resources. For me it is the latter and NPoCC has a key role to play in coordinating this.
I touched earlier on the work we are doing in support of Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, the National Policing Lead on the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR), to understand capacity and capability of specialist policing roles. British policing is going through huge changes at local and regional level as austerity really starts to bite and forces have to make local decisions that may, if we don’t have a clear understanding of capacity, affect our ability to effectively respond to national emergencies, events or crisis.
NPoCC is currently mapping a wide range of specialist assets so we can really see what we have across the UK and where it is. This will help forces make decisions with the clearest understanding of what exists without undermining national capacity. It is not a quick or simple process. Policing is incredibly complex with many specialists at force and local level working on national threats such as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), fraud and cybercrime. Many officers wear many hats, so how do we know what is available and what affect it has when they are used in one of their roles over another? This will take us time to develop but as the data builds we will have the clearest ever understanding to assist mapping out future requirements.
Despite having sometimes limited local specialist assets, forces respond brilliantly to do all they can to meet the national demand to help the greater good. This is not always easy, especially when linked to an ever increasing local political accountability model. The Police and Crime Commissioner’s are also very supportive. There is sometimes tension, which is normal in the world in which we work, but it simply emphasises the importance of the strong relationships we work hard to build. This is true in so much of what we do in policing.
I also touched on UK DVI in my opening which now sits within NPoCC. I have two remarkable officers who coordinate this work on behalf of the UK, yes that’s right just two people! They ensure that the UK response to disasters and mass fatalities is coordinated and that police forces across the UK work to support the difficult job of helping understand what happened when an incident occurs and the traumatic task of bringing home the loved ones of people who have died in often tragic circumstances.
DVI is a highly complex and specialised skill, one that police officers volunteer to do on top of their everyday jobs. The UK DVI team are funded in part by the police, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office and I often reflect on what very good value for money they are. I can’t think of any other country that could get so much for so little. Like in many parts of policing, incredible individuals doing incredible work.
We have a big change on the horizon when we move to be hosted by the Metropolitan Police in April. Hosted means we will remain independent but will buy in support services for certain areas such as finance and HR. It sounds simple but it is a complex process which will be underpinned by a legal Sec 22a collaborative agreement. This will need the signatures of all 43 Chief Constables and 43 PCC’s together with a lot of help from lawyers but I am cautiously optimistic that we will get his formally agreed within a reasonable time scale.Once again, this will only happen because of the strong relationships we have built and in the value placed on the work we do to support UK policing.
Finally, it just leaves me to welcome to my new boss Chief Constable Sara Thornton who will soon be the first Chair of the new National Police Chiefs’ Council, which launches in April, and the overall link between NPoCC and the Chief Constables’ Council who we work on behalf of.
This link ensures that police coordination at a strategic and tactical level is seamless and has the support of the whole service.
As always you can see what both myself and NPoCC are up to by following me on;
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