Chief Constable pledges rebuild trust in policing
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Chief Constable BJ Harrington pledged to re-build the bond of trust between the public and policing.
In a speech in front of 55 new officers who passed out today (Friday 8 October) he said he accepted this challenge.
Mr Harrington's full speech is below:
"Welcome to the first full passing out parade of new officers joining Essex Police after the restrictions during Covid. I am pleased that we can celebrate the success of our new officers, both in W intake and our latest Police Now cohort.
"55 Officers with different backgrounds, skills and experience joining a diverse, innovative and responsive force.
"Welcome also to your families, friends and loved ones. Essex is proud to be a family force and one that draws from the communities that it polices.
"That is why it is so great for the first time in 18 months to welcome you as not only part of our police family but as a part of the community of Essex. You, our communities and our officers and staff have been through so much and to it is so good to see you here today.
"A warm welcome to the Policing Minister, Mr Kit Malthouse, and of course our Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mr Roger Hirst.
"Welcome also to colleagues from across the force from the Home Office and the media.
"Also a huge welcome to Bishop Roger Morris, the Bishop of Colchester who also joins us.
"I must pay special tribute to Bishop Roger for his support to the force in response to Covid19 where he was an active and operational member of the Strategic Coordination Group as well as for his guidance in chairing our reward and recognition panel for staff and officers from policing and the National Crime Agency who were involved in the conviction of those responsible for the tragic deaths of the women, men and children who died so tragically in the back of a lorry in Purfleet in 2019.
"Finally, a very special welcome to James Coppin, an inspirational young man who joins us here today. James – enjoy your day, we are delighted you’re with us.
"All of you parading so proudly here today have done something very special.
"You have become Essex Police officers. You have put yourself forward to protect and serve, just as I did nearly 32 years ago. You have put yourself forward to catch criminals, to protect people and to keep people safe.
"In doing this, you have placed the needs of others before your own.
"You have vowed to act with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, to prevent offences against people and property and to do this according to the law.
"This is what it means to be a British police officer and I charge you always to remember that, to honour it and be proud of it.
"However, as you will know, keeping our society safe so that all can prosper is not a simple matter.
"To those who would do harm, you must be determined and relentless in your pursuit of justice.
"To those who are victims of crime, you must be caring and compassionate.
"To those you work with, you must be dependable, diligent and inclusive. Ensuring they are a valued member of our team.
"And to all you meet, you must be respectful and trustworthy. You must police with consent – the consent of every member of our society, whoever they are, however they define themselves and whatever their beliefs.
"It will not be easy.
"In recent times, the bond of trust in policing has been damaged. I recognise and acknowledge that. Sadly it has been damaged by the few, but like those who serve now, and those who have served loyally before us, it falls to us, – the many - who respect and hold our oath so dear to repair it, to cherish it and to respect it.
"Last week an evil man started a life sentence for the most appalling of crimes.
"I will not list them but as I am a straight-speaking person I wish to be clear that I am talking about the horrific murder of Sarah Everard. I know that I speak for all of us in Essex Police in saying how our thoughts and prayers are with Sarah’s family and friends and those who held her dear.
"I know from speaking to colleagues across the force how abhorrent they find the actions of Sarah’s killer, but equally how angry they are that someone who claimed to share our values, who mascaraded as sharing our good intent, so badly called into question the hard earned and long cherished trust that the people of Essex hold for their police force.
"On a personal level I am angry and feel let down. As it calls into question all of the 32 years of service I have given to policing.
"It calls into question the hard work, dedication and commitment that I and many other officers, staff and volunteers of Essex Police, and policing more widely, give and have given to keeping communities safe.
"However, I also wish to be clear that as Chief Constable I can understand the concerns of the public and in particular of women and girls.
"I have two teenage daughters and have asked myself what advice I give them. I have listened to them when they describe their experiences.
"I have heard the accounts of female survivors of horrible crimes who bravely told their stories to the senior staff and officers of this force and I have listened to my own staff describe how and where we need to improve.
"I accept the challenge personally and on behalf of Essex Police to listen, to better understand, to ensure that we in Essex and policing more widely work as hard we can to rebuild the bond of trust between the police – the officers and staff here and across Essex – and all those who we are here to protect.
"I accept this challenge because when I see your commitment and the commitment of all the people of Essex Police, I know that Essex is united.
"I accept the challenge. I am not complacent. I know the people of this force are not either and they will continue to work hard to keep communities safe.
"I accept the challenge when I see the support of your loved ones here today, from our communities, who support you in your new careers.
"I accept the challenge to speak out and to act where I see things that harm this bond with the public. To challenge where what we do is unfair or exclusionary, whether in our procedures or our acts or our failure to act. I give you permission to do the same.
"I have high expectations of you. Where you see something that is wrong, I expect you to act. I demand that you act. Every one of you must be an ‘upstander’ and not a ‘bystander’.
"I am privileged to be your Chief Constable and I know that you are with me.
"I will also make a promise to you and to the people of Essex.
"I promise that as you carry out your duties insofar as they are lawful, necessary and proportionate, you will have my unwavering support.
"I promise your families that as colleagues, we will look after each other and support you to do the very best job you can for the public.
"And I promise that we will not rest in our mission to protect and serve Essex.
"We will continue to tackle those who cause the greatest harm and put fear into communities, wherever they are.
"On Monday colleagues from our Serious Crime Directorate secured a minimum prison term of 30 years for a man who murdered a vulnerable elderly relative after going to his house to steal property.
"On Tuesday our teams seized hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of drugs and cash in County Lines raids across the county.
"On Wednesday they catalogued their evidence and developed their investigations. In the last year, we have taken out over 80 County Lines operations in south Essex and Thurrock. 150 arrests, with the vast majority charged and many remanded in custody
"On Thursday last week, our Detectives made the final preparations in a case which saw a man jailed for 19 years for a string of sexual offences and other crimes.
"They won the trust of a traumatised woman and helped her speak up.
"Together, they sent her attacker to prison, keeping her, her children and our community safe.
"Today is Friday. When we have finished standing here, we will get on with the job.
"And we are not alone.
"Minister, Commissioner, by next month, thanks to your’s and the public’s support we expect to have more than 3,500 officers protecting and serving Essex.
"As you can see, we are welcoming more people from a wider range of backgrounds who want to make their difference to society. That’s alongside the essential police staff, specials constables, cadets and volunteers that make up our team.
"Colleagues when I welcomed you, I reminded you that we police with consent.
"That this isn’t just something we say. It is real; if people trust us, they call us, they give us information that helps us catch criminals and they support us and most of all they feel safe when we are there.
"You now share my responsibility to maintain this trust and to ensure we never take it for granted.
"Now, I ask you to do three simple things.
• Help people, keep them safe and catch criminals.
• Help people at their time of need – with advice, with reassurance and by making sure we come to their aid when they call.
• Keep them safe – patrolling, responding to emergencies, safeguarding the vulnerable and working with communities and partners to protect people.
• Catch criminals (or, as my daughter says ‘baddies’). I mean the people who continue to prey on the vulnerable, to deal drugs to use violence, who intimidate and cause hate and fear.
"The people of Essex rely on us to do this.
"You are now British Police Constables, Essex Police Constables.
"With that responsibility comes the knowledge that you are part of something that is respected across the world. Your actions - our actions - will ensure that this is the case now and in the years to come when those who follow us take up the challenge and continue where we leave off.
"So as your Chief Constable I wish you well on your journey with Essex Police.
"Be humble, be inquisitive, never take the trust of the public for granted, but above all else be proud of your achievements today and every day when you fulfil the oath you have sworn.
"I hope you and your families enjoy this proud day.
"Thank you and good luck."