In the evening I am sponsoring and speaking in a panel debate on the clash between journalists/photographers and the police. The panel is meant to be an MP from each of the main parties – Boris Johnson, Austin Mitchell and myself – plus Assistant Police Commissioner Brian Paddick. However, the chair informs me as I arrive that both Boris and Austin have pulled out – leaving me and Brian. Well – it was quite a ‘feisty’ evening! Brian has rewritten the guidelines for police handling of media – because of the clashes, confiscations of equipment and altercations. The rewriting has some good points, but several journos gave personal accounts of mistreatment by the police – thus putting Brian on the spot. In the end, he accepted that officers do not always walk the talk on such things. Of course, guidelines, as I pointed out, are all very well – it’s ensuring that officers at the sharp end observe them. I still think there is a long way to go – and the bad news is that Brian is retiring in the near future.
And when I think of my time seeing the Met up close when I served on the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) for five year – Brian is the one officer I met who I believe really understands and gives weight to some of the problems that are contentious. From his avant garde approach to cannabis when he was commander in Lambeth, to his evidence to the stop and search scrutiny and subsequent work on that within the Met and the guidelines as above. I don’t know who will be defender of these things in the Met when he goes.