Sense and Senselessness
How do you write a piece about "what it's like to be a female police officer", when what it's like is almost exactly like being a male police officer? You can see my attempt here.
It's been a while since I wrote for The Telegraph, and the comments make interesting reading. In particular two comments, one gasping in horror at how a woman could want to take on such a ghastly dangerous career. (When she could be lunching at Harvey Nicholls or doing the school run, one assumes.) Another suggests that women who experience unusually high levels of aggression should take up boxing. Which only goes to show that sometimes it doesn't matter what you actually write.
Personally I think a lot of sense has been talked in the days since the Manchester murders. Sir Hugh Orde springs to mind. I don't agree with everything our worthy ACPO president says, but he spoke well on BBC News about why murder suspects sometimes have to be bailed, and how nigh on impossible it is to police when a society is either too frightened or too suspicious to give the authorities information about crime.
It has also reopened the debate about arming the police. I am not a fan of arming every police officer. But I do think we should have a lot more trained and armed firearms officers than we do. There should be a couple of double crews for every five or so unarmed crews, so that the availability of armed officers is not a factor when making decisions about risk and operational tactics. But if we are going to start arming everyone we will have to take a long look at our recruitment standards. There are plenty of officers on my team who make fine investigators, or neighbourhood officers, but who I wouldn't want behind me with a gun, or in front of anyone else. If you want to know why the majority of officers balloted by the Police Federation don't want to carry firearms, just read this story.
That said, if more offenders start laying grenade ambushes for neighbourhood officers, and the climate in this country does start to slide towards a Northern Irish style stand-off between police and society, I don't see what option we will have but to consider wide-scale arming.
In the meantime, I hope the death of these police officers provokes a more thoughtful and researched debate than the "Ooh big scary guns" versus "Kill the scum" that has presided until now.