London Montage

Archives for September 2013

Public Order Policing, Tuesday 9 October 2012 – Superintendent Craig Haslam, Metropolitan Police Service and his Staff Officer, Tracy Gunn

This talk was given from the point of view of a busy Chief Executive and his PA.  We normally tend to think about these roles from a traditional point of view – a commercial company executive and a PA.  It was therefore very interesting to hear about the a similar supporting role but in a totally different context – Staff Officer with The Metropolitan Police.  Craig summed up the diversity of the work they do as a somewhat ‘bonkers’ job with long shifts, but both agreed that they loved the job for all its idiosyncrasies.  Tracy added that she often felt the pull on her time of being a Staff Officer, a single mother and an individual, something very familiar to many a PA.

Craig introduced himself by telling us that he had joined the force some 25 years ago and summarised the different roles he had filled over the years.  Tracy had joined the force in 1991, just after the minimum height rule for police officers had been changed.  Although they were currently based in the London Borough of Newham, involved with day to day policing, their work also involved major events such as the Olympics, the Paralympics; Royal Weddings, Trooping of the Colour and football matches, marches, demonstrations and riots.  The last three come into the category of ‘unexpected events’, while the first are usually organised well in advance.  When an event is organised in advance, depending on its size, meetings are held with the event organiser to ensure that all concerned are aware of what is expected from all those involved.  For a small event this may range from making the event organiser aware of necessary insurance to larger events where everything is organised in detail and volunteers and police officers must know exactly where they should be and at what time, even detailing where refreshments will be located.  You can imagine “Teapot One” is important for catering at major events!

The first question Craig would ask an organiser would be ‘does this event need to be policed?’  If the answer is ‘yes’, then a Strategy would be prepared that in effect works like a log for the whole event.  If the event is organised in advance, the Strategy will grow whilst preparations are in progress.  In the case of, for example, the 2011 riots, the Strategy gets written as events happen, including decisions made in response to prevailing circumstances.  From the moment a request for assistance comes in, Tracy will be organising the Strategy.  For major events, a Gold Command may be appointed to ensure clarity of communication, at other times there may also be a Silver Command and/or Bronzes.  There is only ever one Gold Command, often one Silver, but there may also be a Gold and Silver; there may be one Bronze, or several Bronzes depending on the size and complexity of the event.  Tracy may often go out with Craig to an event and be his Runner – this means that she is literally at his side recording all the decisions that he makes.  There may be a second Runner, being the Technical Adviser.  Usually Tracy keeps Craig’s diary and ensures that he is always in the right place at the right time – we all know what that’s like!

If you think that this is a pretty hectic job, you should know that Craig and Tracy do all this in addition to normal policing duties in Newham.  The greatest compliment they felt they could get was if an event passed successfully without the police ever being mentioned.  The pressure is high these days as due to modern technology, Twitter, mobile phones with cameras etc, the police force is now constantly in the public eye.  The talk ended with an entertaining question and answer session and a formal thank you from the PA Network for such a stimulating insight into police administrative work integrating with the management of public events.

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