PCC Blog 23

Do you work with your head, hand or heart?

David Goodheart has written a book called just that, Head Hand Heart. It’s subtitle is: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century. The thesis is that at one time we thought the future of work lay in preparing as many young people as possible for jobs in the ‘knowledge-based economy’ (the Head in the title). This was why there was a big push to get more and more into universities at the end of school. These were people who during the lock-down found themselves working from home.

However, what the lock-down revealed was just how dependent we were on people doing manual jobs (Hand in the title) and care jobs (Heart in the title). But during the years of university expansion we stopped valuing these hand and heart occupations – to our cost, and perhaps shame.

Although Goodheart’s analysis is a simplification, I’m sure there is something in it, and we need to re-evaluate some of those who worked using their hands and their hearts – the hospital porters and the care workers. They have been undervalued but are actually crucial in any civilised society. They need greater recognition, not least in pay.

When I think about the police force, what I think is happening is that modern policing is having to bring all three together – head, hand and heart.

There was a time when police officers were literally on the streets, pounding the pavements by day and night. It was a very physical occupation.

Now, as well as that, we need officers who can ‘problem solve’ – use their heads and understand data to make a difference to crime in their patch. But, as they come across more vulnerable and frail people, we also need officers who have all the softer skills as well.

The modern force is about Head, Hand and Heart.

Operation Venetic

This is the name of a huge and successful operation conducted by the National Crime Agency (NCA) against some of the most serious organised drug gangs in the country. You may have seen reports in the media. As the name suggest, officers in the NCA operate across local police force boundaries in pursuit of serious criminals who are active at a national and international level.

Last week I joined a meeting where the Agency presented their findings from Operation Venetic. So far they have made over 700 arrests and found guns, drugs and cash. They have uncovered criminal businesses on a vast scale involving millions of pounds a year.

These are the ‘Mr Bigs’ who are usually hidden from sight. At the end of their chain of activity are the local dealers. Charges will follow and assets will be seized.

Essentially, what the NCA officers were able to do – working with regional, local and foreign police forces – was to infiltrate an encrypted messaging system called EnchroChat that the gangs were using and they thought was safe.

Several things stood out for me from the presentation: the ruthlessness of the gangs; the audacity, agility and sophistication of their plans; their ability to use technology; the vast sums involved; their sense of inviolability – though somewhat shaken now – and the need for regional and local forces as well as national.

But all this is one reason why we need a police force that is about Head as well as Hand and Heart.

Oh dear ….

I’m not sure what I have started, but you have been sending me some of the worst speeches in mitigation you have ever heard! The best this week was the defending barrister whose client had just been found guilty of stealing a bath and some plumbing from a construction site. He said, “I think we can see, my Lord, that my client was a basically caring man who was doing his best to assemble the rudiments of a bathroom for his family.”

I hope you are staying safe and well.