It’s been a busy week for the Metropolitan Police. The raid on the Finsbury Park mosque was followed by the arrests of Turkish gang members in north London. I am sitting on the eighth floor of New Scotland Yard having lunch with senior Met officers. Conversation ranges from counter-terrorism to officer safety. Detective Constable Stephen Oake was murdered last week during an anti-terrorism swoop.
- July 9, 2020
- July 7, 2020
- July 2, 2020
Thursdays are the first day of the press week for Police Review – time to escape the office. I have walked from our Wardour Street offices across St James’s Park with deputy editor Ian Francis. We meet Sir John Stevens, Met commissioner, deputy commissioner Ian Blair and the Met’s public affairs director, Dick Fedorcio, for the off-the-record lunch. Back to the office and finalising the content of the next issue. Reporter Syreeta Lund calls from an annual conference on missing persons in Solihull which has a number of police liaison officers attending.
It is Friday and Police Review is out. Our cover features a memorial to DC Oake. We run three pages of letters – should the police be armed is a key issue. Start putting together PPA Award entries. The Press Association files one of our stories on suicide terrorists, which provokes a flurry of media inquiries. Reuters rings and The Times picture desk is after a Jane’s picture of the armoured vehicles the Met has bought – another story of ours which runs in the nationals on Saturday.
PA almost always credits the stories it takes from the magazine. Most newspapers don’t. The Evening Standard once lifted a story verbatim including the quotes from an unnamed officer.
Carlton TV sends round a reporter and camera crew at 4.15pm to interview me for London Tonight on the suicide terrorism story. Back home to three disappointed children who have to miss The Simpsons in favour of ITV.
Monday is the day the magazine gears up for its Tuesday/Wednesday press deadlines. We have the weekly team meeting to review the issue, check on progress by the subs and find out what reporters have dug out. We have a talented team of reporters – Lund, Stuart Mulraney and Tina Orr-Munro. Then Ian and I head down to the Police Federation’s HQ in Surbiton for a coffee and off-the-record briefing with chairman Jan Berry.
Back to the office. E-mails and faxes still flooding in about whether officers should be armed. One describes how he witnessed at point blank range a colleague’s upper arm being sprayed across the interior of a vehicle by a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun, as he sat next to them.
He writes: “Then knowing that you cannot protect yourself or your colleague from the contents of the second barrel, being forced to take cover, in the belief you are leaving your colleague to be murdered. No firearms officer could help us at the scene in this spontaneous incident for they were some 15 miles away.”
I take a call from Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Steve Green. One of their officers, PC Ged Walker, died on 9 January after an incident in which he was trying to stop a car driven by an alleged car thief.
The funeral of PC Walker has had little national media coverage and Nottinghamshire officers are upset, especially as it has coincided with the public funeral of DC Oake. Police Review has run a story on PC Walker’s death but what coverage will the funeral get, asks the chief.
The Victoria Climbie inquiry is published. We go on the heavy criticism directed at the police and the Met internal investigation into 10 officers. More letters coming in so we go for three pages again including a poignant letter from Darryl Codling whose father, a Greater Manchester police officer, was shot on duty 20 years’ ago. We decide on a page for both officers’ funerals.
Write editorial on senior women in the service and their route to the top. There is a conference for 200 senior police women next week. Final proof reading and checking news pages. Answer some questions from our lawyer Tim Pinto – these days our insurers insist the entire magazine is read by libel lawyers before it goes to press.
Italian national TV crew turn up to interview Ian on counter-terrorism measures across Europe. His comments will be dubbed into Italian which causes some hilarity.
Ring an inspector in Surrey to arrange to go out on patrol with officers. The 2pm to 10pm Friday evening shift in London’s East End was a highlight last year, as I tried not to throw up in the back of a rapid response car.
Dyfed Powys Police press officer rings back with answers to a query on my editorial. The deadline has long gone, but his excuse was that tests have shown the panther, which police marksmen have been on the look-out for, could actually be a badger. The media (including The Wall Street Journal) have gone all-out on the story.
It is 4.30pm. Magazine goes to bed and PDFs sent down to the printers, although website is open 24 hours. Have a cup of tea – I have 58 unread e-mails, the fax is churning out paper, the in-tray is overflowing and the voice mail light is flashing on my phone. There is another days’ work here. Decide to go home to house husband and three children instead.