As I start my blog tonight, my first nightshift since the accident, two items of news are on my mind.
Firstly I learned about of the death of an archer I have known for many years. Someone who was more than an acquaintance but I would do his friends an injustice by calling a friend. Someone I liked and only ever had good memories of. He was a larger than life, unforgettable character. I very much doubt anyone would have a harsh word about Dave Wordsall, he wasn’t the sort you could have a harsh word about. There was always laughter around him. The shock of his passing has touched a lot of people, he wasn’t old or frail and although it as been months since I saw him, I couldn’t imagine that changing. I will miss him and would like to thank him for the pleasure knowing him brought.
The second item is the apparent outcome of the furore surrounding Sergeant John de Hayes (@responseSgt) tweeting to the displeasure of his superiors. It appears a gagging clause has been placed on any officer tweeting about matters in the line of duty. This excludes selected Officers who have been hermetically sealed in a cuddly world of spin and PR. Where the image is more important than the content and heaven forbid a morsel of personality comes through. That would never do as personality is a human trait and humanity has to be carefully controlled; policed for want of a better word.
There is so much talk these days after recent tragic events of the “Police Family” and to openly weep in public is a visual reminder of the unacceptable nature of those murderous events and yet these displays of humanity are juxtaposed to the sacking of a Chief Constable branded a shameful liar, another “retiring” as the ghosts of his past emerge.
So what is the truth about the Police? Recent events have allowed me to see the Police in a different light. The Police I have met are definitely human and individual, all caring passionately about the job they do and the people they serve. What could possibly be wrong with the public image of the Police being friendly, grounded and diligent individuals eager to uphold the law and promote closer links with the community? I have thought about this and the only answer is that someone doesn’t want the Police to be seen in this light. The alternative is the Police we used to fear, above the law and enforcing the law. Unquestioned, unchallenged and unpopular.
Fear creates Power, Knowledge undermines power, therefore those in power fear knowledge. If everyone knows the real truth you cannot perpetuate your version of the truth. Social media works faster than spin, those living the truth can relay it around the world instantly and well before those in power can produce their own ending. Therefore their power is diminished as is their control and power is nothing without control. Without doubt Twitter is the worst thing ever for those that want to manipulate, control and scare.
Freedom of Speech is an extremely valuable thing, it gives you the right to disagree, it gives you the right to defend what you believe in without fear, no matter how wrong others may think you are. Without this right or this freedom we are entering a state of Fascism. Fascism is described as a Radical authoritarian nationalistic political ideology, which promotes regulated private enterprise. Its roots are based in severe policing and it seems no coincidence that at the same time a party conference is being held in Birmingham, soap boxing increased attacks on social issues that the West Midlands Police choose to issue a blanket silencing order on their Officers, preventing them from exercising their rights to a voice or an opinion.
We often hear about bringing policing into the 21st Century, this really can’t be achieved by going back to the 80’s and I ask any Officers in a position to change this, do so. If you want credibility and support, suppressing your personnel is not the way to bring it about.