Thank you!

It’s hard to return home, to go back to some level of normality. How does one decompress after experiencing things like the last week? I really have no idea, some on my team have voiced the same opinion, others are thinking the same but are keeping it the Q word (I still dare not say it…) I know this because I know them well, I’ve been living in such close quarters with them for days now, I couldn’t tell you how many days because I have to keep asking people what day it is! We’ve eaten together, driven round London together, we’ve all smelt shockingly bad at times, and we’ve done it all with a smile….

I have never been prouder to be a police officer!

I had my entire outlook on humanity destroyed on Saturday night in Tottenham, people I’d never met, never even spoken to were out there and they were trying to hurt me, they were trying to hurt my officers and our community. There were times when we were in nothing short for our lives, when gangs were throwing barrages of bricks at us, when there were overwhelmed numbers of people rushing at our line trying to push us back, many of whom had metal bars and sticks, swinging them wildly at us, and other members of the public.

A comment I made on Twitter seems to have received some media attention. At one point I broke my ASP, the top section was just no longer there after striking someone on the leg, metal fatigue, wear and tear, faulty product? Who knows. But I will say one thing, when that happened I was in genuine fear for my life, and for the life of my officers. To quote Common Law “If you have a genuine and honestly held belief that you or another are in imminent danger. You may use such force as is reasonable and necessary to avert danger, stop or prevent a breach of the peace or to save life”.

And I did, my genuine and honestly held belief was that these people would have done us serious damage, they would have overrun us, there were more of them than there were us and they were a lot more mobile, so yes the force I used was reasonable and I can assure you it was necessary and I am here alive now. If you want to criticise me for this then please don’t do it from the comfort of an armchair, send me a message here or on Twitter and I will happily talk to you about it and explain why.

Then seeing the wholesale looting and sacking of shops and homes across London over the next two days added further to my jaded outlook on life, how could people behave like this, how can they want to “kill a fed” just because of our job?

And then something happened to change that, something that has restored my faith in mankind. The Walthamstow Respite Centre, a group of people who wanted to do something for their community and to help those of us who were out on the streets. I can’t remember how I found out about it now, someone must have Tweeted at me, but I was in the area so I popped by (as most of you know by now I will go to pretty much any length for a cup of tea) and when I got there I was sat down and fussed over, provisioned with my first cup of tea of the day from a real cup. I chatted to someone called Kate, who I’d been chatting to since, and then I had to go. One of my team in the car didn’t quite understand what was going on, but did manage to insult the Borough Commander when she came inside and shouted “What moron has parked a blue BMW in front of my police car”, he looked quite sheepish when he came outside to move it. Even more so when he went to leave the Walthamstow Respite Centre and turned left down a one way street, only to be stopped by a PCSO on a bike “What the hell do you think yo… Evening Sir” it made us smile…

More info can be found here http://postordinandy.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/community-in-action/ or please follow them on Twitter @StMarysRespite

I’ve been back there every day since, I’ve passed the word to other officers, it’s gone out over GT and local talkgroups, I’ve seen notices all over the place. On Thursday I was at my lowest ebb, I’d been in court getting something. On my way into the Magistrates court I showed my warrant card to the three officers guarding the door and got a “good afternoon Sir”, then went inside, showed the security guard and went to walk round the metal detector, wasn’t allowed, had to take off my harness and put it along with my bag through the x ray machine, then walk through the metal detector which went off, then I was wanded which alarmed on the spare pair of cuffs in my back pocket, then I was given all my PPE back and allowed in. I am unsure why that needed to happen or what on earth the point of it was, but it annoyed me.
While I was in the court my team had to go off elsewhere so I was all alone in London, my phone was about to die and my wallet was in the car, I just wanted to sit down and do my paperwork! So I headed off to the Respite Centre, within seconds of getting there I was issued a cup that never seemed to be empty and some cake, and then some chilli, I can’t describe how amazing this made me feel, Kate and many of the other people there, it made me feel normal again.

I think this message from an officer who is on this borough explains it better than I ever can.
Heartfelt messages of thanks from the police we've helped

Messages of thanks from the police
“FELT VERY ISOLATED AND THOUGHT THE WHOLE OF SOCIETY WAS AGAINST US . YOUR SUPPORT AND KINDNESS HAS  MEANT SO MUCH TO ME AND MY COLLEAGUES!”

And there are countless other examples of this happening, not just in London but all over the UK people are coming out and supporting the police, and one another and the message is being sent that this is not acceptable. To my eye it looks like the silent majority just got a voice, and boy are they using it…

I’ve got to go back out in a second, this entry has been an emotional one that’s taken hours to write. In the last week I have stood shoulder to shoulder with police officers from across the UK, I have met officers from as far afield as Fife, spent time talking to a PSU from Cumbria, been backed up by officers from Kent and Northampton while responding to a shout, I have felt an overwhelming level of support from ACPO ranks, the like of which I have never experienced before. To see Bernard Hogan-Howe out on the streets of Croydon, in full kit with his PPE on the news and listening to his message made me stand up a little straighter. The comments from Sir Hugh Orde and Tim Godwin have been fantastic, and other senior officers up and down the country have all been doing their bit.

On Tuesday we took the street back with an unprecedented police response there were 16000 of us out there, some of us had worked 22 hour shifts the night before, some of us longer but we were there. Members of the Special Constabulary were there, some of them had relieved permission from their employer to turn out, some of them had just walked out of work, they all answered the call. Retired police officers flocked back to us, and supported us in the station, volunteers were there doing anything they could, even if it was just making cups of tea. My phone was going wild with texts from friends in other forces updating me as to the location of their PSU’s, everyone was coming to London. But this isn’t just about those who came to London this is about those who backfilled roles in their local area to release the PSU officers to come to us, the specials hundreds of miles away who worked a 12 hour night shift and then went into their day job, got a few hours sleep only to do it all again. On some boroughs CID officers turned out in mismatched items of uniform and were out answering calls. On my way home I ran into a van being driven by a Detective Super who seemed to be having the time of his life driving round and doing, in his own words, “proper police work”…

We were on the streets, we were visible, we spoke to people and reassured them, officers from Cumbria were constantly being asked where Cumbria was, I believe they wanted to make a sign saying “It’s the Lake District”. Seeing vans with HEDDLU on out and about in Hackney was great, many of the locals had no idea what was going on. The acts of disorder that occurred in Manchester and Birmingham had us all chomping at the bit wanting to blat up there to assist colleagues in those force areas. I spoke to many officers from GMP who’d come down to help us and were concerned about their own area. I wish I could have done more for you chaps.

And then there is the unseen side of this, the partners and loved ones of us all. The ones who sit at home worrying about every knock on the door, staring at the phone willing it not to ring. Only seeing your partner for a hour a day, and most of that time they spend asleep, is one of the hardest things ever. But your support enables us all to carry on doing this job and we love every single one of you for it. We’re all very sorry that we’ve text you and said we’re fine when we’re actually in the carrier on the way to another pocket of disorder, or that we’ve not replied to your messages and calls because we were in a riot. But we all love you to bits, and we’re all going to spoil you when we get home in some way.

My views on those who have looted and caused disorder have been widely published elsewhere, the Toothbrush comment seemed to go down quite well with the team at Janes Police Review, so I won’t bore you with those. But I would remind you that so far we’ve made more than 1000 arrests, charged loads, seized more items than we’ve had evidence bags for. And our work is not yet done, we are just scratching the surface, there is hundreds more hours of CCTV for us to look at, more intelligence to follow up and more support from the public, without the help of the public a lot of the arrests to date could not have been made. We’re still coming, we won’t stop coming until this is over and justice is done.

To the Members of Parliment who have criticised us or mocked us, I say this: you disgust me, you sit safely in your palace protected by my colleagues your personal protections officers are my colleagues, we all face huge levels of danger on a daily basis and we are doing our best. Your unhelpful and frankly ill-informed criticisms and little snipes in the media sicken me, dishearten me and make my job a heck of a lot harder. If you feel compelled to pass comment on things then come out on to the streets with us, come and meet those of us who were on the front line, do not meet Chief Constables resplendent in tunics, do not wander around control rooms miles away from disorder. To you the whole world smells of paint, to me it smells of smoke and petrol!

So to all of you, police officers, special constables, police staff, volunteers, partners of police, members of the public, members of the press, every single person who has supported us, I offer you my thanks and want to remind you of this. If you need us, we will come.

I love this country, I love my job… And this is why we do it

Luke and Inspector Tom

Playing frisbee with the cops

Walthamstow Police Respite Centre: Day Two

Tea mountain

 

PS: Over the week there have been a number of people who have told me I’m in the wrong job. I can confirm I will NOT be applying for the post of Commissioner of the Met, I can further confirm that I am NOT Batman. But I would be willing to be the next Doctor…

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “Thank you!

  1. Excellent, you guys do a great job, keep it up, there are lot of us out there who support you wholeheartedly

    Cheers

    Katspjamas

  2. Anne

    Thank you and all your colleagues for all your bravery. 99.9 percent of uk is behind you. These people should not be called rioters, they are just criminals banding together.
    Thanks again.

  3. Gerwyn

    No Thank you.

  4. Thecustodysgt

    You’re on a roll Wints. Keep up the great work. Your voice is being heard far and wide and sooner or later those that choose not to hear will eventually have to listen.

  5. Stevie

    Always been a huge supporter of the Emergency Services and what they sacrifice to keep people safe and save lives.
    What the Fire Brigade, Ambulance and especially the Police had to put up with and sacrifice during the Riots around the country….”normal” people will never understand. “Normal” people in “normal” jobs will never understand what these workers families had to go through, not know if their loved ones would come home safe, and when they did come home, for a few hours sleep and then back to work again. Having leave and their rest days cancelled so that they can support their colleagues and try and keep the streets safer. Yes, emergency service workers CHOOSE to go into that profession, they do get paid….but you have to take into consideration what they are slated….the police are currently fighting for their jobs, looking at paying so much more into their pensions -to get less out of it, they risk their lives day to day.
    I think it is disgusting that Emergency Services do not get the respect they deserve. They are our silent heroes and need to be recognised for the roles they do.

  6. Teresa

    Thank YOU, all of you, for your work not just this week, but any week, any day, anywhere. I don’t live in London or any of the riot-hit areas, though my relatives live in Hackney, and felt helpless watching you all trying to deal with Sunday night, and angry that you were coming under so much criticism when it was blatantly obvious this was bigger than anyone could have second-guessed.
    You all deserve commendations, a good holiday, and lots more tea. Well done, and thank you again.

  7. Anonymous

    Outstanding job by all of you. You are right that the silent majority have found their voice. I share your disgust at the cheap comments of our politicians, shame on them.
    The riots do have a positive side, they have woken people up to the real risks we face if we continue to give in to the political correctness that holds back sorting this mess out.
    Good luck to you and your colleagues and I hope you can get some rest and relaxation.

  8. Thanks to you and your co-workers for the work you do, not just in extreme situations like last week, but year in year out. I and the majority of people in this country appreciate you for it.

  9. I’m from Manchester, and work in Birmingham. I started following you on Twitter on Monday, because you were giving real information. I’m leaving a comment here because I hope your colleagues in other cities will see it, too. Thank you. Thank you, Insp Winter for your articulate, human response to a nightmarish situation, and thank you all – all your colleagues in all the forces in all the cities who have been involved. Thank you for your courage, your dedication, and for keeping us safe. Just thank you.

  10. Anonymous

    You have done an amazing job anddo not deserve the comments made in the media. You risked your lives to protect people and there was nothing more you could have done. It is easier to talk from a distance rather then face the reality of what took place on the street. The police are not often thanked and hopefully more people will come out and thank you more. It is a shame something like this needed to happen to highlight how dangerous society can be and the work undertaken by the police daily.

  11. Proud of each and everyone of you. So ashamed of Cameron and May . Stay safe and thank you.

  12. Paula

    A very well balanced view, which is remarkable considering what you’ve all been through. Thank you.

  13. Karen H

    I have really enjoyed reading your tweets and blogs, as a serving officer in Essex it has helped to keep me from going mad this last week, as a mum of a 20 month old and partner of a firearms ds, this has been a testing week and each night I hug her and him harder. I feel it a shame some may not get your humour but I think we all have a special way with jokes.. Please keep up the great work and I’ll be reading whenever I can tweet @bob5576

  14. Anonymous

    A HUGE thank you to you and all your colleagues across the country. You face an impossible job every day with a sense of humour and wry smile on your face. Keep your chin up xxxxxxxxx

  15. I found myself with a tear in the eye at the end of the post, watching the photos. I’m glad I discovered your blog, and hope to read more of you.

    A detail caught my attention in the second paragraph, the part about people throwing bricks at you. The protection gear you guys wear in those situations looks quite strong, isn’t the shield hard enough to resist to a falling brick ?

    Thanks for the work you do everyday. Stay safe.

  16. emma

    Totally new levels of respect for what you do. On Monday night I came as close as I ever have to thinking it was the end of the world as I knew it, but knowing you guys were out there doing your best in horrendous circumstances helped immeasurably. A huge and heartfelt thanks to all.

  17. ticktwo

    It’s a shit job (sometimes/most of the time)…but someone’s got to do it…and I thank you for doing it.. I just hope the other days are better and make up for the crap ones…if we can help make them so, then we will. all you guys and gals are welcome for a cuppa at my place anytime

  18. anonymous

    Thank you so much for all the hard work under very challenging circumstances. My fellow British friends that now reside in the States have watched the riot situation with dismay, sadness and shock. We are very proud of our British heritage and never thought this would happen in England. I truly hope that in the aftermath England will once again become the civil, gentle, polite country we love. Thank you again to you and yoru colleagues for helping to achieve that. May you always be safe

  19. Jax

    There’s not much brings a tear to my eyes, but you managed to do it again with this blog post. I know to a certain extent what you’ve been through and at times it’s made me sick with worry, but I know you’re fabulous at your job, as are you colleagues. That gave some comfort, but still I worried about you all. I have a lot of friends who are members of the emergency services and will always defend you all until the last breath in my body has gone, even moreso now. Having worked in the NHS and in Law I’ve seen the nastier side of human nature, but I can never expect to see the side you do and deal with on a daily basis. For that, I’m glad, but I’m also heartbroken that you and your colleagues have to see it.

    I hope that those in “power” will see the positive sides of the past week. I don’t generally do politics, but the likes of Theresa May made me sick to my stomach watching her “praise” the Police, the words visibly stuck in her throat. Between some of the politicians and the media, they should hang their heads in shame! Don’t criticise unless you have walked a shift in their shoes!

    As for you personally, I’m glad you you came through this “in one piece”. I think the world of you and am honoured to know you. My kettle is always on for you and your colleagues, any time, night or day my friend. xxx

  20. Leeroy Coleman

    Wow,that were some read.I were born in Birmingham & now live in Germany.Have to give you & your fellow officers many thanks for what you did & are still doing.Makes me angry to hear David ´Terminator´Cameron critising police & getting some hot shot from USA to give advice,when all he needs to do is talk to officers in UK.

  21. Jim

    Thank you and your colleagues , Jim at Sidcup , Kent .

  22. Rosalind Salter

    Well, that was such an eye-opener. Thank you so much for all you and your colleagues did for the British public. We have the utmost respect for you all and there are not many of us who would have found the courage to remain steadfast in the throes of the most violent behaviour we have ever witnessed.
    God willing the clock will not be turned back to the times when the mainstream voice of the British public was wantonly silenced in favour of the rights and demands of those who have, at last, shown us their true colours.
    There must now be a new order where politicians do not cripple society with overbearing ideologies. The people and the police have been the ones to suffer in all of this. Now we have earned the right to call the shots and we must be listened to. God Bless you all. And, once again, heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.

  23. Arphamoe

    Having been through similar, but not as bad, situations back in the 70’s/80’s, I sympathise with your observations. It is so heartening to see that, finally, the penny is beginning to drop with the majority of the public – oh that our esteemed leaders and politicos could do the same. Many of my NARPO colleagues have volunteered to fill the breaches where we can, but I despair for the future if the proposed cuts continue as promised. You can fill a hole in required numbers for a short while, but not continuously. You and your teams must follow up when, eventually, sanity returns, to demand that you have the numbers and tools to keep on doing the essential tasks of keeping Britain safe. Max applause to you all.

  24. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and giving a personal side to the police that we only ever hear about as one nameless group. You and your colleagues are heros.

  25. Trish Fairclough

    Thank you and all of the men and women who keep us safe, I can only imagine what it must have been like for you guys. I watched the scenes on tv safe in my home, it seemed so surreal and hard to believe that this was the UK.

  26. Dominic

    You guts are doing a great job. That is what matters. I am sure that the fellowship from all policers officers and the support and gratitude from the community testifies to this. Politicians and top management will always criticise from behind their desks. Leave them be. Not all scum reside in the streets. Take care! 🙂

  27. You have my vote as the next Doctor! Many thanks.

  28. Hazel

    This had me in tears. I have such admiration for you and all your colleagues. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can’t imagine what it must have been like for you all, in fear of your lives. I live in Barking, which had some trouble but nothing like the amount that has happened in other areas of the country. I hope you all have some well deserved rest in the very near future. God bless you all.

  29. I have nothing but admiration for the police in managing a very very difficult situation. I don’t live in the riot areas but from what I saw on the TV it was frightening. I am pleased these thugs are being brought to justice.
    I am amazed that so many have been brought to justice so soon, you guys do a brilliant job.

  30. Tina-Marie Shaw

    Thank you, a brilliant job is being done by you all for the good of the rest of us, much appreciated.
    The behaviour of a small minority is outrageous, putting so many decent people’s lives and livelihoods at risk, don’t allow the politicians to tell you all how to do your job (they need to concentrate on their own), you’re doing an amazing job.
    All the very best to you all.

  31. Christopher Points from Cambridge

    So very moved and grateful; relieved I was n’t the only male reader in loads of tears as I read your account. Such bravery, (with such little support from the Home secretary – I hope she keeps a copy of her Monday morning Today interview), bravery shown through all those relentless hours. So proud so very, very thankful.

    Chris

  32. James

    I have read this blog numerous times now, having been made aware of it through a colleague at work. I was one of the officers from Northampton that came down on that Monday night to assist you and all my other colleagues from within the police force to deal with the mass disorder.

    I will say this, I would do it again without even thinking about it. I read your blog and you are able to put verbally what many police officers are thinking.

    So for now, stay safe

  33. What a fantastic read! You leave us in no doubt about who stands between us and anarchy. I just hope that the awakening of the silent majority isn’t a 9 day wonder and that the laissez-faire liberals (small “l” ) don’t push the ‘uman rights bit again. No doubt they will. You guys are doing a helluva job. Thank you.

  34. Barnie

    We rediscovered who we are this last week. We now know that we have friends that we thought had turned against us. We now know the real relationship between us and the politicians. ‘To you everything smells of paint’ should shame and embarrass them. I am more proud of being a cop now than I have been for years. I thank you for what you have done, and for writing this piece. it says it all.

  35. Flo

    Am more than happy to chuck your phrase back at yourself and your colleagues in London and across the country … “THANK YOU”!
    More often than not, I feel the Police are caught between a rock and a hard place, and have to make tough decisions in challenging circumstances, and seemingly never please everyone!
    Despite what the politicians say, the work you have all done over the past week, has been amazing, and a huge number of the general public, myself included are very proud of you all!

  36. P Benson

    I am glad you got through that long weekend alright.I would or could not do your job.The self restraint and bravery of the British Police is second to none.I am proud of you and your fellow officers.
    The Politicians,as always only wanted photo opportunities and sound bites.We wont forget you.But in time we will gladly forget them.

  37. Graham Bunting

    Bless you and all whose mission is to keep order from those that would disrupt and wantonly destroy communities. THANK YOU and stay safe. You have everyone’s support (except a very small minority) in what I can only describe as bizarre times.

  38. Anonymous

    I dont know how to thank you guys for what you did for us. To put others before yourselves is the mark of a true hero, and in my mind you are all heros. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have to face people whose only desire is to harm you. I know I could not have done it.
    Your professionalism and dignity has earned you my unending respect, yes that word respect.
    Thank you all,

  39. Si_W

    Whilst I am rather proud of the efforts put in by the average policeman in general, and not just in times of crisis, I am slightly dismayed at your feeling that Cameron and May were getting at the guys (and gals) at the sharp end. There was nothing but praise for you guys, but criticism for those leading you and getting the tactics wrong by not letting you off the leash sooner. That appears to be the consistent message, no confusion there, and those answers came due to lots of criticism from the public and commentators. If you are mistaking the lack of backtracking over police budgets, then that isn’t criticism at all and a different story altogether.

    I think Hugh Orde is mistaken to think he can’t learn anything from Bill Bratten. I’d rather the new Met Chief was British, I’m thinking the current head of Strathclyde is maybe top of the pile at the moment, but we shouldn’t be so proud or stupid not to take advice – after all, if it’s useless or something we already know, then we’re free to ignore it.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

  40. Anonymous

    How do fill about race especially blacks and indians?

  41. Was an absolute pleasure to serve you and all your (MANY) colleagues who dropped in to St Mary’s 🙂 x

  42. Anonymous

    U said u would comment on this blog about the police and u so far u have not. Busy? To tired? Or not up to the challenge of what u said u would do. Sign cpd

  43. Anonymous

    And no im not battie cute simble

  44. AdamH

    Brilliant job, brilliant post. Thank you.

  45. CountyMounty

    I was shown to the Walthamstow Respite Centre by some local MPS officers while I was up there on aid (I’m a county officer). We stopped next to her in our carrier and asked where was good for food she said she knew a good place and jumped in to show us the way… I was a bit concerned when she said something about “a drop in centre”, as were all the others – you could see from the looks that we were all expecting some slop served by some reformed drug users or something. As it was when we arrived I think we were all pleasantly surprised. We were practically forced to eat huge plates of food and bowls of lovely chilli (as if there was actually a menu written up and stuck on the wall)!

    It was amazing and not something I think would have happened in my force – we don’t seem to have any decent community spirit in the areas I work.

    A real credit to Walthamstow and clearly demonstrated to us that we really are valued by some of the public!

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