Ferguson Missouri

I am keen to write a more I depth article about the situation in Ferguson, having been inspired by this article in Newsweek.Whilst researching, I came across this piece in the Guardian, that on first reading appears to contradict the Newsweek article. However, the problem is a lack of leadership and management cohesion in the policing model. I will explore this in later.

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Protestor Liaison – Academic Theory, Professional Practice

This is an article I wrote some time ago prior to starting to blog. I discovered it whilst researching another blog post. I hope you find it useful.


This article will look at how operational policing and academic research are closely linked, using the development of protestor liaison to describe this.

The HMIC (2009a) report Adapting to Protest, produced after the G20 disorder recognised that the police should be more proactive in communicating with protestors prior to protests whilst adopt a ‘no surprises’ approach. The follow up HMIC (2009b) report Adapting to Protest: Nurturing the British Model of Policing, detailed the results of dialogue policing by Swedish police who have been instrumental in reducing disorder associated with protest events. This recommended communication with protestors before and during protest. These developments have been integrated into the policing manual for public order, Keeping the Peace, (ACPO 2010) which states that engagement and dialogue should be the cornerstones of the police response to protest.

The focus on engagement and dialogue stems from a paradigmic change in the way police view crowds. Historically, they have been seen from the Le Bonian perspective (Le Bon 1895), where the crowd is a homogenous mass, but the HMIC reports and Keeping the Peace have adopted the Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM) (Reicher et al 2004) which sees the crowd of an amalgam of different groups with different identities. The apparent legitimacy of police actions can change the crowd dynamic. If police action is seen as legitimate, the crowd will self police and if illegitimate they will oppose the action. The objectives of dialogue policing are designed from an ESIM perspective and seek to ensure the legitimacy of police actions.

Studies have shown that the crowd does act according to this model, Helgersson & Knutsson and Gorringe et al (2012) have, in their studies of dialogue policing have corroborated the theories of ESIM. In Helgersson & Knutsson’s (2012) previously mentioned study of the Swedish police’s use of dialogue from its genesis to accepted practice, details reductions in violence and increased self-policing due to following the tenets of ESIM. Gorringe et al (2012) look at a specific protest event, one of the first British police deployments of Protestor Liaison Teams and detail how quickly the police move from skepticism to embracing the technique.

Since the event Gorringe et al (2012), protestor liaison has been widely adopted, with HMIC recognising this. I have experience and involvement in its use to reduce conflict, facilitate peaceful protest and resolve potential tipping points.

Reference List

Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (2010) Manual of Guidance on Keeping the Peace London National Policing Improvement Agency

Gorringe H Stott C Rosie M (2012) Dialogue Police, Decision Making and the Management of Public Order During Protest Crowd Events, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling 9: 111-125

Holgersson, S and J Knutsson (2009), ‘Dialogue Policing – A Means for Less Collective Violence?’ in T Madensen and J Knutsson, eds. Preventing Collective Violence: Crime Prevention Studies Series, Volume 28, Monsey, NY and Cullompton, Devon, UK, 2011.

Her Majesties Inspectorate of Policing (2009a) Adapting to Protest London Home Office

Her Majesties Inspectorate of Policing (2009b) Adapting to Protest: Nurturing the British Model of Policing London Home Office

Le Bon G (1895, trans. 1947) The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind London Ernest

Reicher S Stott C Cronin P Adang O (2004) An Integrated Approach toCrowd Psychology and Public Order Policing Policing, 27(4), 558-572

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Sec 60, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994 (as amended)

I have intending to write some short blogs based on specific public order legislation for a while and recently drafted two different Section 60 notices for events I was providing tactical advice for; one was eventually enforced, whilst there wasn’t disorder to justify signing the other.


Section 60, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994 is an item of legislation developed to increase police powers in times of public disorder or potential disorder and provides police with wide powers to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels and to require the removal of face coverings or disguises (60AA, Sub-section 4A in Scotland). It also provides the power to seize anything which could be used as a weapon or disguise. In order to counter balance this, the authorisation must be made for a specific geographic area and by an officer of at least the rank of Inspector and for a maximum duration of 24 hours. If made by an officer below the rank of Superintendent, the officer must notify a superintending rank as soon as practical.

The conditions are

    (1)If a police officer of or above the rank of inspector reasonably believes—
    (a)that incidents involving serious violence may take place in any locality in his police area, and that it is expedient to give an authorisation under this section to prevent their occurrence, or
    (b)that persons are carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons in any locality in his police area without good reason,he may give an authorisation that the powers conferred by this section are to be exercisable at any place within that locality for a specified period not exceeding 24 hours. (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994 Sec 60)

An officer of at least superintending rank may continue the authorisation for a further 24 hour period if they believe that crimes of violence have taken place within the area during the duration of the authorisation.

Failure to comply with an instruction given under this Section or obstructing an officer enforcing powers under this Section is an offence.

This section was originally enacted to deal with football related violence, but over the years it’s use has developed to encompass knife crime (Shiner, 2012). The Metropolitan Police guidelines for its use specifically state

    A significant increase in knife-point robberies in a limited area is not considered a routine crime problem and the authorisation of s.60 should be considered.’ Walker (2013)


The powers conferred by this act are unique (Walker, 2013) in that they give power without recourse to independent scrutinity; for example a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act requires ‘reasonable suspicion’ to search and that reasonable suspicion must be directed towards the person searched and can be subject to court scrutiny. These sections provide a general power to stop and search and there is no court scrutiny of the decision. My personal experience is that senior officers set a very high standard for the ‘reasonable belief’ significantly higher than that set for ‘reasonable suspicion’ under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

However, there is a general feeling that, specifically in England and Wales, this power is used too often and in an unethical manner. Dr Michael Shiner (2012), in a report compiled at the behest of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, provides an interesting examination of the potential misuse of these powers. However, the High Court appeal upheld the legality of the Section 60 powers and ruled they were not a breach go the Human Rights Act. This judgement has been appealed and, at the time of writing, no findings have been issued.

The Section 60 authorisation must be made in writing and must include

    – The area covered by the authorisation, either in terms of Police boundaries or delineation by street. The area must be easily understood.
    – The timescales should be clearly defined and must be the minimum amount of time for the issue to be resolved.
    – The authorisation should be Human Rights compliant, that is, Proportionate, Legal, Accountable and Necessary (PLAN)


Aston, J. ‘Judges reject Julie Anne Roberts stop-and-search claim’, The Independent, 17th July 2012, downloaded from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/judges-reject-ann-juliette-roberts-stopandsearch-claim-7953234.html, accessed 5th January 2014

Shiner, M. ‘Report on the use of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 by the police’ Stop Watch, 2012, downloaded from http://www.stop-watch.org/uploads/documents/Shiner_expertwitnessstatement_s60.pdf on 4th January 2014

Walker, a., ‘S.60 CJPOA – Q & A’s’, Metropolitan Police, 2013, downloaded from http://www.met.police.uk/foi/pdfs/priorities_and_how_we_are_doing/corporate/stop_search_s60_q_as.pdf on 6th January 2014

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A Critique of ‘The Scottish State and the Criminalisation of Football Fans’

This blog post is a critique of the article ‘The Scottish state and the criminalisation of football fans’ Lavalette and Mooney, 2013, in Criminal Justice Matters.

Before starting this critique I will explicitly state my position because I believe that, as a researcher, my position is intrinsically linked to my analysis. As most readers will know, I am a Sergeant in Police Scotland and trained as a public order tactical advisor. My skills and current role in events planning mean I am heavily involved in the policing of football.

I will argue that the article creates a Foucaltian power narrative, casting the club, police and state as the power hegemony and the Green Brigade as an ideal type, representing the oppressed working class, using counter power to push back against the hegemony.

The ideal type of repressed working class is constructed and developed through the article. Initially it introduces the notion of the “‘uncontrolled’ working class” (Lavalette et al, 2013) before introducing ‘Ultras’ and the Green Brigade. In an article entitled ‘The Scottish state and the criminalisation of football fans’ the authors move quickly from working class supporters, through Ultras to focus entirely on the Green Brigade as interchangeable with working class football fans

‘The problematic relationship they (The Green Brigade) have with Celtic Football Club is reflective of the broader contradictions of fandom.’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)

The Green Brigade are a reaction to corporate football ‘bringing colour and song to…games’ but also portrayed as socially responsible, against racism, fascism, sectarianism. The political stance of the Green Brigade is given as the reason for their oppression

‘what has undoubtedly provoked the ire of the Scottish Police and the Scottish Government is the GB’s (Green Brigade) self defined socialist republicanism’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)

The power hegemony of clubs, police, state is built by identifying abuses of power and the use of phrases like ‘swarming’ ‘kettled’ and ‘police state.’ (Lavalette et al, 2013). The three are used interchangeably. References to ground safety become a narrative of oppression; when fans challenge safety regulations, they are threatened with sanctions, no detail is provided to explain either party’s argument, the hegemony simply bully the oppressed.

The Green Brigade complain

‘about their treatment from the club and, more importantly, by Strathclyde Police. Several members…were arrested at home. Others picked up enroute to matches…Members were served with match bans (often without prior knowledge) or travelling bans’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)

These sentences link the actions of the club, police and state creating the hegemony of the three; but are crying out to be unpicked.
Why were prope arrested? The article doesn’t try to answer this, but discursively creates the link between membership of the green brigade and the arrests.
Who issued match and travel bans and why? The implication is the police, however, they have no power to do so; Football Banning Orders are issued by courts either after conviction for a criminal offence or application by the police. They can only be issued if a Sheriff believes that the person involved engages in violence and disorder and the imposition of a ban would help to prevent this (Scottish Government 2011). Banning someone from traveling is harder, Football Banning Orders have a condition that passports must be surrendered to prevent travel to foreign fixtures and may contain an additional condition preventing travel to towns where the club is playing (Scottish Government, 2011). Someone issued a Football Banning Order must register with the police within 5 days of the order being issued (Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, Section 53(2)) so ‘without prior knowledge’ is wrong if it is the Police/State that issued the ban. Clubs can ban fans from their own stadia and often control the sale of tickets to away fixtures, but cannot issue travel bans.

The article details other hegemonic abuse of power, arguing that the Green Brigade have been targeted because their

‘offensive banners, singing songs that are sectarian (loosely defined to capture any songs supportive of republican issues) or behaviour that is likely to cause offence. While there have been many arrests, so far the police have filed to get a significant conviction.’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)

The article states

‘The GB (Green Brigade) rarely sing pro-IRA songs. However, in their repertoire are a number of songs commemorating the Irish Hunger Strikers … It is these songs that have been used to target the group under the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)

The Campaign Archive on the INternet (CAIN) (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/index.html) argues that the Hunger Strike was started by the leader of the IRA within the Maze Prison (CAIN Web Service) and I suggest that it is overly simplistic to separate the two as the authors have done_.

The phrase ‘significant conviction’ is very subjective, but the rulings in the case of Cairns (PF Dingwall v Joseph Anthony Cairns) and Moore (Ogston, 2013) are both in my view significant and both accept that the songs are sectarian and/or relate to the IRA. I do accept that both these judgements came after the article was submitted for review and publication. There is a counter finding, also from Dundee Sheriff Court, cf the case of Dion McLeish (BBC, 2013), which found that the Crown had not demonstrated the link between the song and proscribed terrorist organisations, however this is currently subject of a Crown Appeal.

The authors are dismissive of the press when their position is contradicted, (‘despite Scottish media reports to the contrary, the GB (Green Brigade) rarely sing pro-IRA songs’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)) but when the press report hegemonic harassment it is considered evidential and quoted (‘The policing was considered so extreme…it led to a number of well publicised critical comments from … sections of the media’ (Lavalette et al, 2013)).

The power narrative constructed by the authors is overly simplistic, allowing only two actors, a football crowd is composed of opposing supporters. A review of crowd psychology is out with the scope of this article, but I think it is fair to say that the actions of one set of supporters impacts upon the actions and behaviour of the other set. As the 2003 ACPO Manual of Guidance for Keeping the Peace states

‘a trigger incident may be as a result of actions by crowd participants, by the police or as a result of altered perceptions arising from the interactions between them’ (my emphasis) ACPO 2003

The authors identify actions of the Green Brigade which they present as political statements and actions of counter power, for example the songs discussed above and banner protests against poppies, but don’t consider the wider issues that these actions have on the dynamics of the crowd. Excluding the reaction of the other party builds the narrative of oppression and abuse of power.

The article concludes by reaffirming the link between the Green Brigade and the working class and also locating them in the power struggle with the state. This is where the power narrative is clearly detailed and the power abuses of the state in suppressing/oppressing the working class clearly stated. The authors link the power abuses of the Scottish state against the Green Brigade with abuses against the working class.

The article constructs an overly simple, two dimensional power narrative, of the innocent oppressed and the oppressive state. It fails to consider the negative aspects of the oppressed’s behaviour or analysis the reasons for the states position and it fails to consider the other players in the power narrative, such as opposing fans and those unconnected with football.


Association of Chief Police Officers (2003) Manual of Guidance for Keeping the Peace, London, ACPO
BBC, (2013) ‘Crown considers appealing Celtic fan’s not guilty verdict over Dundee disorder charge,’ http://www.bbc.co.uk accessed on 10th November 2013
Conflict Archive on the Internet, http://cain.ulst.ac.uk, accessed 10th November 2013
High Court of Justiciary (2013) Procurator Fiscal, Dingwall against Joseph Anthony Cairns, Edinburgh downloaded from http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2013HCJAC73.html
Lavalette, Michael and Mooney, Gerry (2013) ’The Scottish state and the criminalisation of football fans,’ Criminal Justice Matters, No. 93, pp. 22-4
Ogston, Graeme, (2013), ‘Celtic fan banned for sectarian singing at Tannadice’ Dundee Courier, September 19
Scottish Government (2006), Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006, Edinburgh, Scottish Government, downloaded from http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2006/10/contents
Scottish Government (2011), An Evaluation of Football Banning Orders in Scotland’ Edinburgh, Scottish Government, downloaded from http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/354566/0119713.pdf
Scottish Government (2012), Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, Edinburgh, Scottish Government, downloaded from http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2012/1/section/1/enacted

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Chemical Suicide

This blog post is an area of policing I don’t normally blog about, but it is one that I have a strong professional interest in. I have been a Police CBRN responder for a number of years and an instructor for 7 or 8.

All information in this blog post is drawn from open sources.

On Thursday a five star hotel in the centre of Edinburgh was closed following what the press are describing as a Cyanide Suicide Pact.

The phenomena of chemical suicide has become increasingly popular in the UK, having come to these shores from Japan via the USA across the Internet. The PowerPoint available here details the journey from Japan across to the USA. The first documented chemical suicide pact in the UK was in Essex in 2010, since they have spread across the country.

A simple Google search produces instructions on what chemicals to use and how to mix them to create a noxious environment. Pre-cursor chemicals are generally over the counter products such as drain cleaner and fungicide which are mixed together, although sometimes gases like helium and carbon monoxide are used as asphyxiants.

This presents a real risk to first responders – police, fire and ambulance. The favoured mixture of chemicals produce Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) or Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN), both of which are highly toxic. Chemical suicides tend to take place in confined spaces – cars, bathrooms – to produce higher, more toxic concentrations, but increasing the danger and risk to those discovering or dealing with the incident (see here). I have been unable to find UK stats for first responders injured in chemical suicides/attempts (if anyone has any please get in touch) but documents on the Internet suggest 4 out of 5 incidents result in injury to first responders or innocent members of the public. A recent case in Fife, Scotland, led to a member of the public and two police officers being taken to hospital after a male killed himself using Sodium Cyanide.

There is a considerable amount of advice on the Internet for to assist first responders with chemical suicides, generally from US police and fire departments. this one from the Saline County Criminal Justice Training Centre provides a comprehensive overview including the history and advice for responders identifying hazards and responding to incidents. This Coffee Break Training bulletin from the United States Fire Administration proves a useful Aide Memoir.


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A Response to Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz MP

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Tasers: Officer Safety Tool or Threat to Public Safety? A Critical Analysis

This blog is a response to an article written by Sophie Khan ‘Tasers: Officer Safety Tool or Threat to Public Safety?’ . I will use critical discourse analysis (CDA) to draw out the underlying meaning of the author and demonstrate that her conclusions are not supported by fact.

CDA is methodology used by academics to study texts; this is not the place for a detailed analysis of the methodology, but an overview is necessary. CDA attempts to redress the balance of power between the power hegemony and the weak. I have a Foucaltian position on power and believe it ebbs and flows and that power hegemonies are not clear cut. For an overview of this methodology, see my Masters thesis.

I will start by outlining my position. I am an operational Police Sergeant, I am qualified as an ACPOS Public Order Tactical Advisor and an ACPOS Public Order Commander. I have undertaken the NPIA Taser course and have been the Bronze Commander for operations in which it was deployed.

It seems almost counter intuitive for me in a position of power to use CDA to challenge the position of someone challenging the hegemony, however, the author places herself firmly within a power hegemony,

    Sophie Khan is a solicitor-advocate, and head of Actions Against the Police at a leading firm in Surrey and London. She is also the director of the Police Action Centre (Khan, 2012)

The headline of the article ‘Taser: Officer Safety Tool or Threat to Public Safety?’ suggests a reasoned debate with arguments from both sides, this is reinforced by the sub-heading

Sophie Khan discusses the public safety implications of plans to introduce Taser stun guns for police

The word ‘discusses’ suggests that both sides of an argument are considered, it is reasonable to expect the article to include the perspective that public safety is increased by the use of Taser.


Throughout the article, the author refers to Tasers as weapons,

  • (A)Tasers are as dangerous and fatal as a loaded gun
  • (B) due to the impression given to police officers that the Taser is an ‘officer safety tool’ rather than a ‘weapon
  • (C)Tasers should only be used by firearms officers, as they are a prohibited weapon under Firearms Act 1968 s5(1)

The word ‘weapon’ and the phrase ‘loaded gun‘ imply something used to maim or injure and present Taser as inherently dangerous. Statements B and C are misleading. All tactical options on the Force Continuum (see my blog here) from hand cuffs to firearms are officer safety tools and not weapons. The suggestion that because an article is prohibited under Section 5 of the Firearms Act they should only be used by firearms officers is wrong as incapacitant sprays such as CS or Pepper Spray are prohibited weapons. There is no legislative or policy statement that imposes such a restriction.


The author uses sensationalism to present her argument throughout the artice.

  • Tasers have been linked to over 500 deaths in the United States – the author does not provide context to this in relation to the time frame and number of deaths as a proportion of Taser discharges, 500 per 1000 is highly significant, 500 per 1000000 is statistically insignificant.
  • The paragraph entitled ‘Cardiac Arrest’ presents details of a case involving Brian Loan (see press article here) and refers to it as a Taser related death, Smith (2009) argues Tasers have been implicated in (primarily in mass media), though exonerated (by coroners and medical officials) from, causing two deaths in the UK: Brian Loan, County Durham (2006) and Justin Petty, Bedford (2008)
  • in the paragraph entitled ‘Use of Tasers in the UK’ the author presents three examples and states that the use of Taser has breached ACPO Guidance. She doesn’t actually link the examples to the statement but the juxtaposition of the examples and statements is designed to make the connection in the readers mind.


The author marginalises or ignores evidence that doesn’t support her position. In the paragraph entitled ‘Taser Related Deaths – Excited Delirium Syndrome’ the author discusses how a Canadian Court found that international medical professionals rejected the term and found that it was ‘used to cover up actual causes of death using Tasers and extreme restraint’ This bold statement is not referenced, however, a referenced statement agrees that the American College of Emergency Physicians agree that the condition exists, but because the ‘pathophysiology’ hasn’t been agreed, this is discounted.

The paragraph ‘Cardiac Arrest’ presents an article by Dr Zipes into links between cardiac arrest and taser, but concedes that it only makes the case that there is a link, it is notable that this study only looked at 8 cases, a insignificant number compared with the number of deaths the author attributes to Taser. Additionally no information is provided about pre-existing medical conditions or the presence of drugs/alcohol that may have been contributory factors. I have been unable to access the full article, which may address these points, but the abstract is here. The author overlooks the contradictory Defence Scientific Advisory Council Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (Domill) report contained within the ACPO Guidance which states that

On the basis of the present study, it is considered unlikely that the electrical discharge from the M26 and X26 Taser devices will influence cardiac rhythmicity by a direct action on the heart of healthy individuals. ACPO (2008)

Strong Conclusion/Weak Evidence

In the paragraph ‘Use of Tasers Abroad’ the author concentrates on one example, Turner v Taser Inc, which ruled that Taser Inc should have given a warning about extended cycles of Taser. Interestingly, the court did not consider the behaviour of Turner or
rule on the justification of the use of Taser. But after citing this examples, the author states

This is a significant judgment as it sends a clear message to police forces that there are real risks associated with Tasers which can no longer be ignored


The author’s headline suggests a reasoned debate, but a critical analysis demonstrates that the argument is one sided, conclusions are drawn from weak evidence and evidence which challenges the author’s position is ignored or marginalised. In addition sensational statements without analysis are presented as supporting her argument.

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Belfast Calling

In the last 18 months I have been deployed to assist other forces with policing events or disorder, from the London Riots, the Olympic Torch relay and demonstrations and protests. These deployments, known as mutual aid, allow forces to resource incidents that would place undue stress on their own resources.

During the last few days, I have seen comment and discussion on Twitter and Facebook about the disorder in Belfast, with people asking why we mainland officers aren’t being deployed to assist and colleagues volunteering to go. In addition, mention has been made about mutual aid deployments for G8 in Northern Ireland this year and postulating that this is in some way different.

Mutual Aid to the PSNI is becoming more of an issue, I believe that there have been previous requests which haven’t been filled due to the unique policing environment. There is however pressure from both sides, the PSNI looking for more resources and the Government wishing to portray normality in Northern Ireland.

Prior to deploying officers from the mainland to support the PSNI the following would need to be resolved

1. Start with the easy one, public order officers on the mainland wear blue coveralls and helmets while our PSNI colleagues wear black. If officers wore different colours, it leads to the possibility of officers being singled out for attack due to being a different, non PSNI force. While it is easy to issue new kit, neither forces or manufacturers hold large stocks of helmets due to shelf life and the lead time for manufacture would be measured in months for large orders.

2. There are big differences in tactics between the PSNI and mainland forces which have developed due to the unique disorder faced by the PSNI. This uses armoured Landrovers to take and hold ground. Some mainland forces have access to armoured Landrovers or Jenkels suitable for public order deployments, but not sufficient to provide mutual aid back to the PSNI. Would it be possible and safe to deploy mainland public order carriers to the PSNI? I would argue that the lack of manoeuvrability and the lack of protection would make mainland carriers vulnerable if deployed to PSNI.

3. The biggie- officers of the PSNI carry a personal issue firearm for protection all the time. If mainland officers were deployed would they be issued with a personal protection weapon? If the risk to local officers is so great, does this not transfer to officers assisting? If they are not issued a firearm, how is the risk mitigated? By confinement to barracks?

I have also seen the suggestion that the army should be deployed to assist, while I try and avoid politics in my blogs, I am a great fan of learning the lessons of history, the last time the army was deployed to Belfast in a dispute over flying a flag they stayed for a number of years.

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Glencoe Marathon

Why? I asked myself this question during the 14-16 mile section of the Glencoe Marathon as I climbed up to the Mamore Range of mountains, a 300 meter climb in a mile.

Spurred on by the number of people who believed in me and kindly donated to COPS, I battled through the climb, at times knee deep in peat bogs. The relief of seeing the trail disappearing in an approximate descent towards Kinlochleven and the halfway point lifting my mood, if not my legs.

Running a marathon in a kilt was interesting, I’ve never had so much attention from marshalls, fellow runners, spectators and hill walkers; albeit a lot of ladies seemed disappointed I wasn’t a true Scotsmen, but the thought of 26.2 miles of chaffing brought tears to me eyes.


The course lived up to its billing as the UK’s toughest marathon, mainly running along trails, with some miles pioneering across knee deep peat bogs – I nearly lost a shoe on a few occasions – while some of the paths were made of loose stones that your foot sank into and shifted with your weight.

My finishing time of 6’11 was just outside my target of 6 hours, but given the course I was pleased with it.

The highlight, other than raising cash for COPS, was between 14-16 miles, when I had sunk into a mental and physical hole; the water station with a cheese board on offer.


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A Policeman’s Prayer

On Wednesday I attended the Scottish Police Memorial Service at Tulliallan Castle; where those who have fallen in service are remembered.

The following day, I was hit by the terrible news that a colleague and friend had died in unexpected and tragic circumstances. While it wasn’t in the line of duty, the timing was poignant and the news hit me hard as he had been a source of support and friendship when I was first promoted and was the person I went to for advice or to gauge the feeling of the shift.

A mutual friend posted this on Facebook and I thought I would share it.

A Policeman’s Prayer
The Policeman stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, officer. How shall I deal with You?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”
The officer squared his shoulders and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Cause those of us who carry badges can’t always be a saint.
But I never took a penny that wasn’t mine to keep,
Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me, I wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.
They never wanted me around except to calm their fear.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord, it needn’t be so grand.
I’ve never expected or had too much.
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was silence all around the throne where the saints had often trod.
As the officer waited quietly for the answer of his God.
“Step forward now, Officer, you’ve borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven’s Streets. You’ve done your time in Hell.”

-Author Unknown-

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