Rachel Moore

A friend’s seven-year-old daughter came home from school on Wednesday and told her mum: “We can’t trust the police.”

Her class had watched BBC Newsround and that was her takeaway from the daily news after the results of Baroness Louise Casey’s year-long enquiry into the Metropolitan Police were published.

Her mother was horrified.

When Sky News asked the prime minister if his daughters aged 11 and 9 could trust the police, he couldn’t give yes as an answer.

When the biggest police force in the country is deemed institutionally misogynistic, racist and homophobic with 363 pages of evidence of widespread bullying and examples of such toxicity they make your skin crawl, every other force will be eyed with mistrust, and every individual officer, until they prove otherwise.

There is no point in other forces getting huffy and defensive adopting the #notallforces approach.

They must prove it by conducting themselves, always, with the utmost integrity, honesty and honour.

After all, that is what they are paid to do from the public purse and it’s no less than the public should expect and deserve from every police interaction.

Unfortunately, as Baroness Casey uncovered. it’s not just a few bad apples that created rotten cultures that lead to the public being treated with contempt and crimes against them dismissed as unimportant and not worth their time.

With widespread bias against its own staff and the public, officers were found to have got away with acts so serious they amounted to crimes.

What is crucial now is how police forces around the country react. 

Every serving officer now has a responsibility to read all 363 pages of that report and assess how they measure up to every call out, crime report and approach for help.

Unless they treat the public with respect, listen, treat every crime victim and everyone they encounter in the course of their work equally, they will be tainted with the Met brush.

The seven-year-old girl might not understand the background to a widespread mistrust of the police but ask any older woman and she would be hard-pressed to find one who would feel comfortable reporting a sexual offence or domestic violence.

Baroness Casey told Sky News that a "wholesale change of public protection" is needed, particularly for women's safety.

Racism and misogyny in forces are national problems, she said.

If police want to be trusted, they need to check their behaviour and accept they are on probation until they prove they can be trusted. 

Ofsted changes needed

Reading the heart wrenching account how head teacher Ruth Perry killed herself after an inadequate verdict by Ofsted inspection has haunted me all week.

Perry devoted 12 years to the primary school and was much loved and respected by parents, colleagues and the children.

With the rest of the school judged good, leadership was branded inadequate and the school grading dropped from outstanding to inadequate based on s gaps in record-keeping and observations of typical childish behaviour in the playground.

Distraught, she focused on the one word, inadequate. It crushed her. Teaching had been her passion and vocation for 32 years. 

Having witnessed many Ofsted inspections as a parent and within further education colleges I wonder if inspectors, often plumped up by their own self-importance and misplaced power, think about the effect on the individuals their verdicts from snapshot view can have.

They sweep in, terrorise and judge, then move on to the next school.

There must be change in the system. 

Inspections should not be tick box exercises, inputting data into a spreadsheet for data to come out. 

Schools are not factories producing widgets. They are about children, families, teachers – human beings that don’t fit into neat boxes.

A backlash against Ofsted is growing. The Suffolk Primary Headteachers’ Association (SPHA) executive director Rebecca Leek said the tragedy of Ruth Perry’s death had given people courage to speak out about things that they have been concerned about for a very long time.

I really hope so.

Love always wins

In a world of gloom, the light of love lifted spirits this week.

Teenage sweethearts Len Allbrighton and Jeanette Steer, forced apart by Jeanette’s parents, finally married 50 years later.

Len, 79, and Jeanette, 78, met aged 19 and 18 in 1963 as trainee nurses on the Isle of Wight.

They got engaged as Len was preparing to travel to Australia where he had hoped to marry Jeanette, but her parents forbade her from travelling to the other side of the world.

They both married other people and had children.

Then, Len returned to Britain and showed up at her door unannounced in 2015. 

Jeanette had saved the engagement ring Len had given her in 1963 and was delighted to see him.

Len said: “I was daunted not knowing what her reaction would be or if I would even see her. It was not an easy place to find but I did.

They married on February 11 at the register office in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

If that’s not a story to warm our cockles and give hope in times of a grim news agenda, nothing will.

Here’s to love; however long it takes.