As the son of a GP and a nurse, and the brother of an NHS consultant currently working on the frontline, I will do everything possible to help protect the courageous men and women of the NHS – albeit with powers I never imagined a British police officer would be asked to use.
Everyone in policing is acutely aware that how we police this pandemic will be remembered for many years to come. The two most important police officers in the country, Commissioner Cressida Dick and Martin Hewitt, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, have both made it clear that persuasion and education to do the right thing is our primary goal. Preserving the trust and confidence of the public by policing by consent is our mantra, and has been since 1829. There will be a period of readjustment to our new responsibilities, which no police officer ever thought they would have. Not every police response will be surefooted and some will spark healthy debate. We should not judge too harshly.
Some of the bravest men and women I know put themselves at risk every day to protect all of us. And they do so now not only to arrest terrorists, murderers, drug dealers and gangsters, but also to persuade us rightly to obey the Government’s directions designed to halt the spread of COVID-19, protect the NHS and save lives.
Some of the most compassionate men and women I know are attending COVID-19 deaths in the community, alongside their fire and ambulance colleagues. Their aim is to make sure our loved ones, cruelly taken from us too early, are treated with as much dignity as possible.
These people are our British police officers and they continue to protect us from harm even as most of society has to shut down. I salute them – and the police staff who keep the frontline safe and supported. We all should.
Last Thursday I was out on my doorstep crying and clapping with the rest of my street for our medical superheroes. But I have reserved some of my tears and applause for my other 999 colleagues, our soldiers and especially those most dear to me – my police brothers and sisters up and down this United Kingdom.