by Gavin Thomas
Throughout my career I have heard the phrase “the job is not like it used to be!”
I think I heard it when I started my first foot patrol, shiny new uniform and shoes, occasionally glancing at myself in a shop window thinking “who on earth is that?” and realising, worriedly, it was me.
We all look back with nostalgia, remembering colleagues we have served with, cases we have investigated, and incidents we have dealt with.
We remember successes, laughter, trauma, heartache and even fear.
But when I hear “the job isn’t like it used to be” coupled with “policing is broken”, I could not disagree more.
Sometimes we look back through a sepia-coloured lens (Instagram can even add this for you now if you need it) and sometimes, yes there are things that actually were better.
Many aspects have improved.
And some things, thankfully, have stayed exactly the same.
Of course policing has changed. It will continue to do so. Change is constant and anything or anyone who does not change risks becoming obsolete.
But one thing that has not changed is that we still recruit the best people into this great service.
People join because they want to serve the public, protect them and keep them safe.
The awful events of recent weeks have shown that the public really does appreciate the work of police officers, police staff and other members of public services.
From the first officers on the scene at Manchester to the doctor waiting for his daughter at the arena when the bomb went off, who made sure she was safe and then went straight into the hospital to help those who needed him.
From the officer at Borough Market attempting to hold off three knife-wielding terrorists with his baton, to the fireman apologising for not doing enough at Grenfell Tower, when no-one could have done more.
These are acts of heroism, bravery and commitment and they are supported by thousands of others, not always visible but working long hours, giving up days off, going the extra mile to make sure they give as much support as possible to those who are in the front line.
My Association talks regularly about blame culture in policing and the need to learn rather than point the finger and punish.
But of course there are many other types of culture in policing. We are seeing the absolute best of these right now: the bravery culture; the can-do culture; the caring culture.
The job and our public services are far from broken because they are made up of people who will always be there for the public.
People who just say ‘yes’.
But we must never take this for granted. The people who make up our police and public services are from the communities they serve. They have the same day-to-day worries, use the same services, live the same lives as everyone else.
Like everyone else, they go home after events like the last few weeks and put the kettle on, reflect, try and explain it to their families, and maybe when no-one is looking have a good cry.
Like everyone else, they have a breaking point. The goodwill of our public services is a wonderful thing and we must ensure that in return we look after their wellbeing and give them the right support. Because policing is nothing without its people.
Policing is built on the principle that the police are the public and the public are the police.
It has been wonderful to witness the different ways in which the public have shown their appreciation for police over the last few months.
We are a great service because we come from this public.