A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 20 July 2012
It has been said on many occasions that the London 2012 Games will be the biggest peacetime policing operation ever staged in this country. The events of the past week have borne out what a significant security challenge that presents.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison is doing an exceptional job in leading for the service in securing this internationally important event, and the speed with which contingencies have been enacted is a clear demonstration of the flexibility, resilience and dedication of our police officers.
They are getting on with the job with their usual professionalism and the can do attitude typical of British policing. There will be time for further reviews about what has happened in due course – what we now need to do is get on, working with partners, with delivering the Games. My sense is that the police service recognises this and is fully focussed on getting policing resources to where they need to be.
What the past week has highlighted is the continuing demand for the police service to work together across the 44 territorial forces to deliver on the national agenda. That is why, as we draw ever closer to the arrival of elected Policing and Crime Commissioners, I will continue to emphasise the critical importance of the Strategic Policing Requirement – the document which sets out the need to ‘have regard to’ national policing issues. I have spoken now at a number of events for potential PCC candidates and it is very clear, and understandably so, that among them there are very differing levels of knowledge and experience of how the police service works collectively at the national level.
Where I think there remains work to be done is in clearly specifying what policing resources are available at national level to tackle threats. When a moment of national demand comes along, the police service needs to be able to say very clearly what numbers and resources are at its disposal. Put very starkly, in COBR, the Government’s crisis committee, it cannot be that I tell the Prime Minister to ‘hang on a minute’ while I call every chief constable in the country and ask them to do a quick headcount. That means I need to know that forces are committed to a national resource that is fixed, over and above their local commitments, so that in incidents with a national dimension like the fuel strike or 2011 riots, we can have absolute confidence in our capacity and capability to deal with a given situation.
As the PCC will hold the budgetary responsibility, they will have an important role in this debate. But we do need to nail down the detail so that responsibilities in the national context are clear. There is still a considerable amount of work left to do, but right now our focus has to be on delivering, as they say, the greatest show on earth.
So in the meantime may I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Olympic Games. I have every confidence that the police officers and staff who have worked day and night in helping plan this event will keep it safe and secure.