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Aim to be the best and to prepare for the worst
written by CC Dave Thompson on the 06th June 2018 at 11:21

I’m going to talk about two key aspects of my development plan for 2018-19 and I hope you will be able to see there is an operational focus to what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve tried not to just consider a year’s worth of activity but to try and embed some practices that will take us beyond this period.

Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann

Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann

2017 was an incredibly difficult year for the CT network; five terror attacks left behind numerous victims of these appalling crimes. It is with this in mind that I am asking officers and staff who work in my departments to do two things; to aim to be the best and to prepare for the worst. These objectives have been set for my departments but I think they are relevant for all of us.

Firstly, if I take aiming to be the best. This is about learning lessons from incidents and operations not only in the West Midlands but nationally and internationally where appropriate; making sure we learn from the experience of others and build best practice into our policies and processes here in WMP. This could range from conducting a hot debrief at the end of a critical incident on the shift to a full structured debrief of a major planned operation. I’m not convinced that we spend enough time doing this at the moment and while debriefs may be conducted, can we really be sure that the learning is embedded into our future operational practice? I want to encourage us all to allow time to reflect on a job or learning from a major incident and consider how it can be fixed into WMP operational practice going forward. It is particularly important that senior leaders recognise the importance of this activity and make time for it to happen.

Secondly, preparing for the worst; I know this sounds rather gloomy, but we must be realistic. This is about thinking what the worst case scenario would be, what our individual roles in resolving that would be and making sure we’re match fit to tackle it. For the CTU this is a major terror incident occurring in the West Midlands. ROCU has identified that a large scale cyber-attack would be theirs. I’d ask you to reflect on what is the worst case scenario that you might have to deploy to and make sure you are prepared to meet that challenge.

It’s not a criticism but I don’t believe we spend enough time on testing and exercising. In a way it’s understandable when demand is high and the day job is all consuming. The problem with that though is officers and staff are expected to remember and implement so many different policies, you are expected to respond to so many different missions and taskings that it is unsurprising that sometimes staff tell us they feel under-prepared for that major incident.  So I’m asking senior leaders in the organisation to make sure that time spent on development and training is well spent on honing our operational response to critical incidents, drawing on best-practice from across the world, and making sure we are all prepared for anything that might be thrown at us.

 Originally posted at

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