The last few days have, it’s fair to say, been a blur; sleep has become a distant memory. Like every decent person around the country, police officer, staff, family, friend or not, I felt physically sick when the news started coming out about the horrendous murders of PC’s Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester on September 18th.
After writing my post on the matter, It Tomorrow Never Comes, and whilst watching one of the BBC News Channel live feeds from the scene I received a tweet from @ResponseSgt wondering if a small number of officers could be rallied to #CoverForGMP so their own teams could attend the funerals of the officers concerned. Shortly afterwards I had a similar tweet from @TheCustodySgt (or it may have been the other way round).
After a couple of minutes thinking about it, I reckoned that shouldn’t be too difficult, even to get 40 or 50 bobbies from GMP or one of the neighbouring forces to step in and help their colleagues and so I tweeted the message
Calling all cars …. Would you work a day in GMP so their officers can attend funerals for Fiona and Nicola ?
I then went off to mow the lawn, with the thought of ‘how would that work’ milling over in the back of my mind whilst I cut the grass.
Not very long after at all, Mrs C, who as it happened wasn’t working that day either, came out into the garden saying “Chaos, what’s wrong with your phone it won’t stop beeping”. As soon as I looked at the screen and saw the sheer number of notifications and emails outstanding, I knew something big was happening !
Within a very short space of time, my initial guestimate of that 40-50 officers to help had been blown well out of the water. Within hours, over 1,500 police officers, staff and members of the public had offered to get to Manchester and do whatever was asked of them, for free !!, in order that the officers, staff and people of Manchester could pay their respects at the funerals of their fallen colleagues.
A couple of days later and there are now well over 5,000 people who have said YES to #CoverForGMP ! – yes, that’s right, OVER 5,000 !!
And that’s on my Facebook and Twitter alone. Many, many more have already contacted GMP and their own forces to offer help.
These are people from all over the country; yes many are police officers and staff who directly feel the pain that Fiona and Nicola’s colleagues, families and friends are going through – but many are not. They are everyday folk who are also so overwhelmingly shocked and affected by what has happened that they also feel the need to do something, anything, to help out. For that, and for every kind word received by me, by GMP, and all the other police forces round the country I can only say a big, big thank you yet again.
On top of that, Virgin Trains and National Express have also indicated their wish to assist us moving people around and have been put in direct contact with the Senior Officers Teams at Greater Manchester Police.
Highways Agency staff are queuing up to volunteer to work on the day to keep the expected boom on vehicle numbers flowing as freely as possible.
There are hundreds and hundreds of messages of support of people offering to just turn up and make tea for everyone (never going to say no to that) and others the other end of the country wanting to make sandwiches, bake cakes, get up in the middle of the night and drive hundreds of miles to help keep everyone fed !
With all the police-bashing that has gone on lately from all sides, just ask yourself this: Where else would you get literally thousands of people, offering to work FOR FREE; at very short notice; on a day off, or even book annual leave, to do someone else’s job; to drive possibly hundreds of miles into the bargain; to cook and clean; to answer phones; to walk the streets; to deal with some of the worst that life can throw at us ?? – has this one tragic event alone, shown everyone that the United Kingdom still has the best police service in the world, and that the vast majority of the British public actually do believe in and support their police officers.
More importantly, will it be that if one positive thing can come out of the horrendous events of September 18th, will it be that the police and the public will begin to re-engage in a big way ??
Let’s also remember, this hasn’t been started by some kind of Mutual Aid request from GMP or any other force – it’s not a plan that’s been put together by any Chief Officer – it’s not really a ‘plan’ at all !! – this has purely been driven by, dare I say it, ‘frontline’ police officers, so shocked and numbed about what has happened that they felt the need to channel their emotions, very quickly, into something as positive as possible. I think we have achieved that.
As expected, there have been a few negative comments thrown my way about this whole idea, which I don’t think I worth giving penance to, but to the couple of people that have suggested I’m only doing this to try and get a promotion; Really ?? think about it – NO, not a chance !! and anyway I’m anonymous and intend to stay that way – I’m doing this because I’m in a position where I can, it’s as simple as that !
There is a heck of a lot of planning going on behind the scenes at Greater Manchester Police already, and any final decision on how they can best make use of the offers on the table has to be a logistical decision for them. I know that the Senior Officers are doing everything they can to make #CoverForGMP happen but of course, the wishes of the families affected will be paramount.
All updates will be announced immediately by GMP who will be in charge of any operation, the GMP Federation, Police Federation nationally, and will be cascaded via myself and also directly to all other UK police forces so please keep following on Twitter and/or Facebook for quickest updates. On Twitter make sure you are following:
@ConstableChaos – @MikePannett – @InspGadgetBlogs – @GMPolice – @GMPFederation
If possible, please do not call the number being re-posted on Facebook/Twitter for Greater Manchester Police. This is a General Enquiry Helpdesk number. The staff in there are being fantastic and they are recorded peoples info onto a database in readiness, but the number IS getting swamped and our calls may delay genuine requests for service from GMP getting through.
If you would like to add your support / comments, please do so here –> Calling All Cars … Would You #CoverForGMP – everything will be made available to GMP as required.
The most likely scenario is that each Police Force outside of GMP will be asked to collate and coordinate their own staff / officers. If you are GMP please speak with your Line Managers / Duties Teams. I’m not sure yet exactly what the plan is for members of the public offering help but this will be announced in due course as well.
The suggestion I have put forward to Senior people involved, based on feedback I’ve had, is that a number of officers working on a ‘mutual aid’ type basis could cover mobile patrols in the main areas, freeing up GMP officers, whilst the rest line the routes, in uniform. I must stress this is not a confirmed plan and is remember, subject to the families approval.
Once again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP, SUPPORT AND KIND WORDS.
One final note …. I was originally going to call this post ‘It Started With A Tweet’