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Panorama...pre-match commentary

Edit: I wrote this as a generic introduction to the issue of the police being held to account. I intend to write about the IPCC and issue of officers resigning once the program has aired.
Some of you may have noticed that the tag line for DJ changed last week. I did it for a few reasons. Firstly, it reflects what i have learned from my own mistakes as a blogger. Secondly, it encapsulates how seriously i take my responsibilities as a writer. Thirdly, and unintentionally, it summarises by view on policing by consent. The new tag line is;

"To earn the privilege of holding to account...
...i must first learn to be held to account"

As a police service we are charged with the ultimate responsibility. UK citizens give us a power over their liberty in exchange for the authority to exercise that authority over the minority who seek to undermine the safety of society. This is how I would define policing by consent. Where we individually, or institutionally, overstep our authority, or abuse our privileged position, it is right that we are held to account. For some that may sound like a bit of a soft approach, after all we have a job to do right? I'm not forgetting that, and in this article i am not talking about front line tactics...i am talking about the politics of policing, and the ethics of our role and relationship with our citizens.

Every police officer in the country will have heard how difficult it can be to be in the job when mistakes are made. Being held to account generally isn't comfortable. It can be embarrassing. It can be upsetting. It can make the job of policing much harder. What can be easy to forget is that the public, often through the press, have the absolute right to challenge us when we make mistakes. If we want to enjoy public support we must welcome such scrutiny.

This evening Panorama are going to challenge the way we work, and how we respond as an organisation will undoubtedly effect public confidence. We may not like what the program has to say, but we should be grateful. Panorama are good at what they do...they are fair, and they have the public interest at heart. Where allegations by the media are totally wrong it is right that policing leaders make a stand against that. But the problem comes when we hit the grey area. It may be that we have to bite our lip when presented with some of their evidence. Their statistics may not match statistics presented to us by more sympathetic think tanks, the home office, or our own databases. It could be that some of us know that particular types of behaviour is the exception rather than the rule. It is even possible that some officers will see close colleagues behaving hugely out of character. It is bound to be an emotive program for those people who have dedicated their lives to keeping the public safe.

However, we must put those feelings to one side, accept Panorama's findings without quibbling over semantics, and behave like the highly professional family of good honest public servants that the majority of us are.

It is right that we should be held to account, no matter how uncomfortable that may be at times...but is there a limit? I would love to hear your thoughts on the program, aired tonight (Monday 31st October 2011) on BBC1 at 20:30. It would be great to hear if you agree with my definition of 'policing by consent'...have i got it right?

PS: Note the lack of cat wasn't easy to avoid them lol