This weekend North Yorkshire Police, along with many members of the wider police family are in mourning. They are reflecting on the sad passing of a colleague and friend who like others, left home to serve his community and our society as a whole but, due to his choice of profession, he will never again return home to his family…
This morning many heard, initially via the undoubted power of social media and latterly via mainstream media avenues, that a North Yorkshire police officer was tragically killed on duty last night.
PC Andrew Bramma, aged 32, was tragically killed when his patrol van hit a tree in West Tanfield, near Ripon, on Saturday 5 January 2013. He was on the way to answer an emergency call. Andrew had recently transferred to North Yorkshire from Greater Manchester…(See Book of condolences – North Yorkshire Police)
Obviously and rightly, the expected words of support and condolence were quickly forthcoming but sadly there were also some disparaging and inappropriate comments across both media platforms. One mainstream media report that I read this morning (Daily Mail) had public comments with a roughly 75% – 25% split (at the time of reading). The higher number were thankfully offering words of support but worryingly, the smaller proportion were not. Some media sources I saw during the day even had sick suggestions that in some way, Andrew actually “got what he deserved” for being a cop?
Everyone is shocked and saddened by the news of his death and I speak for every member of the force in extending our heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues…(CC Tim Madgwick)
Many of those people commenting probably won’t ever be able to start to comprehend what Andrew’s family and friends are going through right now. Irrespective of your personal views on policing, he was simply a family man with a wife and two small children going about his daily work on your behalf. But in addition to that, he was also a valued and respected member of the wider police family, a ‘family’ that is shocked, hurt and bereaved at the loss of one of its members, just like any other family. Thankfully one respondent to the article I read in The Mail summed up what many were hopefully thinking.
The usual anti brigade have made visits and posted comments showing their stupidity and ignorance. The sad truth is that the authors of such comments lack the moral fibre and integrity and courage required of all police officers…(Source dailymail.co.uk)
One retired Police Officer and advanced driver commenting on the article also pointed out; many 999 calls are actually made by “people who don’t really need attention that quickly” but the emergency services don’t know that until they actually arrive at the scene of the incident. Rightly he also says “when next you need the police, you will think it’s an emergency and if they don’t get there quickly enough you will criticise them for not being there.”
It’s one of those factors of policing that every officer knows. But still the majority do their job with integrity and professionalism, to the best of their ability. Anyone who truly serves the public (as opposed to themself) fully understands that they will always ’damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ by an element of our society.
Whatever your warped perception of policing in the UK (mostly thanks to our media methodology), have some bloody respect for the grief and pain of Andrew’s family. If you happen to have some valid complaint about the police service you receive, at least have the common decency to voice it through the appropriate official channels. Any uneducated cowardly muppet with a personal axe to grind can vent their sick spleen on social media – Put up or shut up!
Andrew was simply serving his community and I thank him for that. He was also playing his part in making our society a better place for us all to live; what did you do today to make us feel proud?
Rest in Peace Brother!
- Police officer killed answering 999 call was father of two (telegraph.co.uk)
- Police officer killed in crash (bbc.co.uk)
- Police Death: Tributes To Officer Killed In Crash – Sky News (news.sky.com)
- VIDEO: Tributes to Pc Andrew Bramma (itv.com)
It would be fair to say, it hasn’t been a good year for British policing. As the BBC pointed out recently in one of the latest stories; in recent years a number of chief constables have resigned or retired after facing pressure to step down amid criticism or allegations about their conduct (see here)…
In February, Adam Briggs, Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, took retirement after a spat with his Police Authority over personal development funding, and a subsequent misconduct charge (read more). Later in the year, a deputy police chief in Wiltshire committed suicide, whilst being investigated over allegations of sexual harassment of female colleagues (read more).
The long running saga over the North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Graham Maxwell rumbled on through the year, until his retirement (see here) in May. He subsequently admitted gross misconduct (see here) and narrowly avoided becoming the first Chief to be sacked in the UK for 30 years. But the Disgraced chief constable, who tried to help a relative get a job was still awarded a £250,000 golden handshake before saying goodbye (see here).
Earlier this week, Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire police, decided to step down from his post (see here). There is an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry ongoing into his role (see here) in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
The only problem with Norman Bettison’s decision to retire as West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, at a date and on grounds of his own choosing, is that it raises the prospect of the investigation into his role in the events following the Hillsborough Disaster being pursued with a little less vigour…(The Independent)
But, even when a Chief is considered to be a “good copper” by politicians, the public and the officers that he/she is responsible for leading, they’re still not immune to some media condemnation.
Unfortunately, Chief Constable Michael Todd of Greater Manchester Police was subjected to this. At the inquest into his untimely death on Snowdon in 2008, despite being hailed a good cop (see here), he was subsequently branded a lothario by the exact same media outlet (see here).
And, even when the IPCC get involved and find there is no case to answer, as with the “anonymous allegation” against the Chief Constable of Sussex Police (see here), there are still those who will vociferously cry; “no smoke without fire” I’m sure.
Mr Price appeared to think his position as Chief Constable gave him the power to order people to do as he wished. A Chief Constable must set the standards for the police force to follow. Sean Price appears to have forgotten this and he set his own standards which fell far below those that would be expected. He has attempted to intimidate and bully staff under his leadership and mislead an independent investigation…(IPCC Press Release)
With all the bad press over recent months, it’s hardly surprising that Yvette Cooper MP, the Shadow Home Secretary announced planned changes to police scrutiny at the Labour Party annual conference.
The Guardian: Labour would abolish the Independent Police Complaints Commission and replace it with a tougher and much more robust Police Standards Authority to restore public trust in the police…(Read more)
Cooper reportedly said a new body was urgently needed to ensure that isolated incidents were not allowed to damage the police’s reputation. I’m not sure about the creation of ‘a new body’ but I can go with, something has to be done to preserve and hopefully enhance a failing police reputation. I do however agree with her observation.
Police officers need to know serious problems will be rooted out so they don’t cast a shadow over everyone else. …Policing in a democracy needs proper checks and balances…(Yvette Cooper MP)
After reading all of the above, it would be fair to see the ‘bad year’ comment as something of an understatement however; my concern, more importantly, is the fall-out that is impacting upon British policing as a whole. In particular, the effect it undoubtedly has upon public support (or the lack of it) for frontline officers.
It’s a sad state of affairs that we mostly have to endure events like the recent deaths of frontline police officers (see here) to bolster and mitigate against the failing public support for policing; a failure that is mostly engineered by politicians, senior police management and the media!
- ‘Shameful’: Lying police chief Sean Price sacked for misconduct (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
- ‘Shameful’ chief constable will keep his pension (telegraph.co.uk)
- Hillsborough tragedy: Norman Bettison to retire after controversy over role (guardian.co.uk)
- Police chief guilty of misconduct (bbc.co.uk)