Ian Blair's departure

Blimey – he’s gone! It’s always a bit of a shock when someone leaves like that – even when you have thought they should go. Ian Blair has been clinging on for dear life virtually since he started. It is to his great credit that despite the errors of judgement he made – and his mistakes have been very big and very public – that he has actually achieved progress in some areas – like neighbourhood policing and diversifying the make-up of our police.

His flaws? Too clever by half for one. I think (and I was a member of the Met Police Authority for five years alongside Ian Blair) that he had progressive intentions hampered by a belief that he could handle the media – sort of Blair (Tony) and Alistair Campbell rolled into one. But he wasn’t good at it. Or perhaps it is just not the way the Met Police Commissioner needs to play his hand. Appearing on Question Time just after the shooting was an appalling error of judgement.

It is so interesting when I look back. If I juxtapose two vignettes of Ian Blair – perhaps this might give you a taste of the man himself. When the Macpherson report was published on the events around the murder of Stephen Lawrence – it was recommended that the police start to use stop forms. This meant that if a police officer stopped anyone – they were required to give that person a copy of the ‘stop’ form which would state why they were stopped and also describe the person ethnically etc. It took quite a time to fill out and, whilst absolutely right in intent, took out time from patrol. Now hopefully, they are moving to an abbreviated form done electronically – which will keep the good points but cut the delays and bureaucracy.

As for Ian Blair’s role. Well – at an event on stop and search that was put on by the Met, with actors playing situations, groups from all over London came to discuss the issues around stop and search, knife crime and relations with communities. I remember, crystal clear, Ian Blair when he gave his speech saying that he thought the form was obstructive, unnecessary and would stop police doing their job. It was clear to me that he thought this a waste of time and nothing to do with good policing.

Jump forward about five years and Ian Blair has become Commissioner. Addressing senior officers from across London and Borough Commanders in his first major speech to his men and women – he made clear that diversity was a huge issue and that how stop and search was handled was paramount in community relations and that the stop form was an absolute necessity.

Had he changed? No – not in his core belief but you see – I think the key to Ian was that he saw what was needed, and if that wasn’t where he had positioned himself, he shifted to wherever necessary to conquer and move forward with the agenda.

He was far too political – but then it is political position. I thought he stepped way out of line when he backed ID cards during the election period. Also when commanders were encouraged to encourage their MPs to vote the ‘right’ way on extending detention without charge. This is not OK – but Ian was a player and would not hold back from political activity to push forward the government / his desire.

He lived pretty dangerously and as he said in his resignation statement – it wasn’t the pressures, the mistakes or the stories that got to him in the end. It was clear that Boris had basically said he wouldn’t work with him. Whatever I think of Ian Blair – that was the absolute wrong reason for him to go. There were myriad reasons for him to leave his high office – from Stockwell to race divisions in the Met – but being forced out by Boris was the wrong reason.

0 thoughts on “Ian Blair's departure

  1. Not being a Londoner I’m very concerned that policing London and being responsible for combating serious threats across the whole country are the responsibility of the same person. That both tasks have been well executed of late is a credit to Ian Blair, but isn’t it time that we developed a better structure?

  2. Couldn’t agree more to be totally honest with you…why people feel the need to rush to his defence because the Daily Mail don’t like him is totally beyond me…

  3. Hi Lynne, The claim the Metropolitan Police Commissioner assisted in the diversification of the service is unfairly bias and petty minded of you. The Commissioner has been subject to claims of racial discrimination from Assistant Met Chief, Tarique Ghaffur, Britain’s highest profile Asian officer. Mr Blair was subsequently subject to further race claims from Britain’s highest ranking Muslim civilian police staff, prior to claims made by Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei. Furthermore, you abort to mention the ongoing discriminatory treatment of Sikh officer Detective Seargeant Gurpal Virdi, who has won several cases against the Met’s treatment of ethnic minority officers. During the rule of Sir Ian Blair’s rule, the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association & the Black Police Association were similarly subject to formal investigations into their finances. Both organisations were cleared by Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiries. There were other accusations of racism lodged against the Met and Sir Ian Blair, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Met. The National Black Police Association have reportedly threaten to cut all recruitment, and put a stop to all meetings with Sir Ian’s senior management and the wider Met Police on issues surrounding ethnic minorities. What does this say Lynne about Ian Blair’s diversity ‘champion’ beliefs? Perhaps you should also ask yourself why the Association of Muslim Police are so quiet about the treatment of Muslim officers, and why they have openly come out to say how great Ian Blair is. Perhaps some associations receive ‘lavish’ funding, including full-time staff to work in their associational office, whilst other associations do not receive similar support. Mr Blair regrettably impeached himself. His behaviour, attitude and his treatment of ethnic officers did nothing to help him

  4. Mash, “diversifying the make-up of our police” can sit alongside, but not comfortably, with the top level problem that has caused those racial discrimination cases. The key is in the sentence: “He was far too political – but then it is political position”. According to the reports, appointments at the very top have taken on a political dimension, and are thus apparently not being made solely on the basis of professional assessment of the candidates. If that is to continue, we need to have a clear break between the politically influenced level and the straightforward career grades – and then senior officers who hit the ceiling will know that they have to look for top jobs in other forces. No, I don’t like that happening as I’m sure you don’t, but look at how law and order were improved in New York.