What Blair is also responsible for in the Met Police.....

Will Sir Ian Blair, survive the week?

I think not, I think that once the IPPC report comes out, unless something truly remarkable happens, then Sir Ian Blair will probably have to resign. If it wasn’t for that then I’d think he’d probably survive. But then it really rather suits the Government, the MPS and the MPA for Blair to hold on and take chop for both convictions/results – rather in the manner of a burglar asking for several other offences to be taken into account at the same time.

And, I do accept the arguments that such was the catastrophic nature of the mistakes made on July 22nd that it is already outrageous that nobody is putting up their hand to be accountable for it. I do not accept the argument that anything that happened on the 22nd was somehow understandable because of the extraordinary position that the Met found themselves in that morning. It is absolutely how people or organisations behave when the pressure is on that tells us if they are working.

However, if Sir Ian Blair goes then it will not be without concerns for other parts Met Police activity that he has had a considerable positive effect on. The Stockwell Shooting may have been the most catastrophic mistake but there were other pretty high profile ones and other gaffes that when taken together could have felled another police commissioner. But they didn’t; and this has to be because Sir Ian’s batting average must have been high enough for the Government to want to keep him on.

A couple of weeks ago we held the latest meeting of the Crystal Palace Safer Neighbourhood Residents Panel, where I have been the Chairperson for the last 2½
years. I love this meeting and it is always a joy as well as a welcome challenge to chair it. It is here that we get to set the priorities of our Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) and woe betide them if they do not report back and take action on these priorities. I may look all nice and smiley but I can get quite scary and as for Linda, from the St Hughes Residents Association…..!!

The change I have seen in our area and the cultural change I have seen the Police and the SNTs has been amazing. And as someone who has spent their professional life attempting to plan and implement transformational change in all sorts of organisations, both large and small, private and public, I am simply amazed by what he has managed to achieve. I believe in terms of community policing, particularly in urban areas, the Met Police is the envy of many other forces.

The other week we had finally moved on from prioritising graffiti & fly tipping and there was no persistent antisocial behaviour on the St Hughes Estate; even the residents of Anerley Vale believed that things were now ‘manageable’. There are still problems, compared with the rest of Bromley Borough we are a crime hotspot, and one particularly opportunist burglar had managed to make our burglary rates peak for the year in just one morning. We have to focus on tackling drugs in the ward. But Haysleigh Gardens Neighbourhood Watch for the first time in its 8 years of existence had no crime to report at their last meeting and that is an event worth celebrating.

These are not headline grabbing achievements, they are small but important steps and I am not sure that we have had time to prove the case for community policing once and for all. How a police force reacts at times of terror is very, very important and I am not overlooking it or seeking to downplay the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. However, most of the policing that takes place in London is of a different type and on that, in my experience, Sir Ian Blair acquitted himself well. He is a talented leader of transformational change and crime in London has gone down.

Of course, the test of change is that it outlasts its instigator and we need every layer of the Met Police and the Home Office to buy into the idea that the police are there primarily to serve and protect the community and not drive around in fast cars with a blue flashing light on. What I want to be sure of is that the funding and focus that the SNTs require remain in place beyond Sir Ian’s departure. I am nervous, that if he goes, those who don’t have the patience to wait for community policing to pay its dividends, will scrap it. If they do that, then my and my fellow residents’ quality of life will be diminished.


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