Independence issue in focus of top cop’s talk

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Merseyside Chief Constable Andy Cooke before this year’s lecture. Pic © Dan Jones JMU Journalism

Lecture Theatre One at the Redmonds Building was packed to the rafters as Merseyside Police Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, delivered his annual lecture about policing in the city.

This year’s question he posed in his lecture was: “Do policing and politics make happy bedfellows, or is a fundamental principle of British policing, operational independence, being eroded?”

The chief constable gave interesting insights on how police in the city operate, and who officers are held accountable to.

He spoke at length about the relationship between himself as and the Police Crime Commissioner for Merseyside Police, Jane Kennedy.

In the presentation, Chief constable Cooke said: “We are servants of the crown, not employees. So who is a Chief Constable responsible to? The Police Crime Commissioner can hire me, and fire me. But the PCC is not my boss. She or he can’t tell me what to do.”

YouTube: Police Federation of England and Wales HQ

He was assigned as Police Chief Constable for Merseyside Police in 2016, but has been working at the force since 1985, having served in every rank.

Before his talk, Chief Constable Cooke spoke to JMU Journalism on this year’s presentation.

He said: “I’m very lucky at Merseyside Police, I have an exceptionally good Police Crime Commissioner. She’s an ex-government minister so she understands governance and accountability. She understands the operational police force for police officers. She holds me to account when necessary, other than that she’s very supportive.

“As a result of that, Merseyside Police has consistently for the past five years been the best metropolitan police force in the country, and sits in the top five police forces nationally, according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate.”

Cooke also discussed the crime rate in the region, after a slight increase in October, saying: “Dealing with violent crime is always a top priority for the force, we do it very well. We’re graded as outstanding in relation to our response time in serving organised crime, but it has been a challenge for us.

“As a result of that, our police officers are working 12 hours a day, so every police officer will be working longer hours to counter those issues, and that’s worked very well because shootings have come down again.

“We had far fewer shootings then we did 10 years ago. We’ve actually had less shootings than we did this year than last year, so we’ve got a downwards trajectory.”

Twitter: Chief Constable Andy Cooke

About Tom Battison, JMU Journalism