Three and half years ago when I became the Editor of Policing Insight, the world was a different place. The UK had voted to leave the EU, but at that point there was little understanding as to what that would mean for policing. Policing was still operating under the constraints of severe cuts to its services, under the austerity umbrella, but also other public service cuts had cast policing as the service of the last, and now often the only resort.
There are far more good things happening in policing than ever reach the public eye, which was what attracted me to this job; Policing Insight struck me as trying to do something a bit different.
It was against this backdrop that I took on the role of Editor. There are far more good things happening in policing than ever reach the public eye, which was what attracted me to this job; Policing Insight struck me as trying to do something a bit different.
Its aim was to debate the challenges of policing, of which we know there are many, but also to shift that debate towards offering some solutions. I was also drawn by the shift towards a greater understanding of the role of evidence-based research in supporting policing, which has continued to gather momentum.
Much has happened in policing in three and half years and much has happened at Policing Insight too. I am proud of what has been achieved to date. Over the last few years we have introduced several series including Report Watch, which digests some of the ever-appearing reports that impact policing. In a world where media seems to increasingly align itself to different ‘camps’, its role is simply intended to be a quick and agenda-less summary of a policing issue.
This year we launched The Police Student, written by our Academic Editor, Dr Carina O’Reilly. The first of its kind, this series aims to demystify the academic element of policing and support the new wave of police recruits who will be expected to complete a degree in policing. It is fast becoming a must-read for both students and non-students.
Recently, Policing Insight has spread its wings and our audience now extends beyond the UK, but this is very much in keeping with our original vision. No one police jurisdiction has all the answers. By listening to each other, by sharing our successes and failures, everyone benefits.
For me, this culminated in the World Class Policing Awards which took place in London last November. It was a celebration of the best of policing. To sit among the men and women who do the job (as opposed to me who writes about them doing the job!) was the most humbling experience and a reminder that police services all over the world are continually searching for ways to keep their communities safe.
Stepping up to the challenge
And then the pandemic happened. Once again, police services were called to step up and deliver whatever instructions they were given from governments trying to navigate an extraordinary and terrifying situation.
The police service is often seen as Jurassic for its inability to change at any discernible pace. The pandemic busted that myth.
The police service is often seen as Jurassic for its inability to change at any discernible pace. The pandemic busted that myth. At Policing Insight, we watched force after force, department after department rise to the challenge of policing COVID-19, only this time the enemy wasn’t even visible.
With the threat of the pandemic easing and our knowledge of its potency and management growing, we should never forget those early days when the police and the other emergency services had no idea what they were heading towards, yet still never flinched.
At Policing Insight, our aim was simply to produce as much material as possible that might inform policing in some small way, and in doing so try to ease the burden facing police officers.
The pandemic has been a very busy time for us all on Policing Insight, but it was also a time for me to reflect and to realise that it is time for me to step back from the day-to-day business of covering policing. I will still be involved with and writing for Policing Insight – having taken up the new role of Contributing Editor – but I also need to focus my attention on something else, something a little closer to home. My grandmother survived, but was orphaned during the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The time has come for me to attempt to write her story.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Bernard Rix, Ian Barrett and Dr Carina O’Reilly for making the last three and half years such an enjoyable experience. Remote working has not dimmed your support or your humour that has sustained me through the best and the hardest times. Thank you.
I’d also like to say thank you to all our wonderful contributors. What a fantastically giving group of people you are. Your perspectives on policing have informed me, challenged me and, at times, deeply moved me. Please don’t stop.
And finally… Royston Martis of Martis Media conducted a mini survey last month on coverage of policing in seven national newspapers in the UK. He found that just 8.9% of stories about policing or police officers were positive. 8.9%! That is ridiculous and it has to change, because it is simply not an accurate reflection of policing in the UK or indeed elsewhere.
The vast majority of police officers and staff of all ranks and roles do a remarkable job, way beyond their ‘job description’, as do the many external policing organisations. Unfortunately, they also tend to be a modest bunch. So, if I had one plea, it is to put that modesty aside, tell us what you are doing and let us shout it from the rooftops. I look forward to working on those stories in the future, and my email – [email protected] – remains open.