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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Brian Paddick: Should he get his job back?
Controversial police commander Brian Paddick made a surprise appearance at a public meeting in Brixton on Tuesday organised to launch the campaign for his reinstatement.

A cross-community campaign in Lambeth is lobbying for his return, saying that the highest-ranking publicly gay policeman in Britain has been the victim of homophobic vilification.

Commander Paddick pioneered a strategy in Lambeth, south London, to shift policing away from cannabis arrests and towards tackling street crime before newspaper allegations that he had smoked the drug himself.

The policeman denies having smoked the drug, but has admitted that his former partner did smoke cannabis.

The Metropolitan Police Authority recommended that he be moved to a much less high profile administrative role at Scotland Yard.

Tell us what you think. Should commander Paddick get his job back?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Whether he smokes dope or not, I don't care. In fact, I don't give a damn what he gets up in private, but I do know it takes one hell of a Police Officer to have won the level of cross community support and respect Mr Paddick enjoys. To do it in some leafy part of Hampstead or Chelsea would be one thing, the fact that he's managed to do this and be White, never mind Gay, working in a part of London that, whilst it may have large Black, White, Asian and, indeed Gay, populations, is hardly noted for the level of tolerance they exhibit towards one another is truly outstanding. It's taken the Met over 20 years since the Brixton riots to find an individual who has had such a positive effect on peoples lives that they are prepared to fight on his behalf, be they Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight or indifferent. If it looses it's nerve and the plot now, it may never get the same chance again anytime soon. In this man lies the hope that it can be done. Let's hope he's back soon.
Desmond, UK

Brian Paddock is an affront to right-wing, authoritarian media hacks who have long campaigned against liberal-thinking. Paddock took a different line and it worked better than turning Brixton in a repressive police statelet. This really got up the nose of those who champion the American style of lock-em-up penal system, so they begun a vindictive campaign against Paddock. When nobody seemed horrified at his sexuality, the media published some spurious stories told by an ex-lover. If anyone is guilty of being sordid and under-hand, it's not Paddock but the Daily Mail.
Daniel Brett, Cambridge, England

I wonder if the people supporting Paddock would feel the same if he had been accused of inciting racial hatred.. thought not.
M.P.Marshall, UK

I would like to see comparison figures with the other London boroughs. I couldn't even say who my local police commander is because I don't know - that itself speaks volumes that Lambeth residents do know who he is and what is more, call for his reinstatement. As far as I am concerned, the police authorities seem to be reacting to information in the gutter tabloids - the mere fact that they read them is disturbing enough, let alone react to them. Stop the petty bickering and get him back in his post, where he belongs, and go after those police commanders who are not producing the goods!
Dave Allen, London, UK

The area is infamous for high crime levels, drug abuse and 'loony left' councils

Rob Holman, Chislehurst, Kent, England
Come on - this is Lambeth we're talking about. The area is infamous for high crime levels, drug abuse and 'loony left' councils. It's fitting they should have a police chief who is gay, a drugs user and pro-anarchist. It would probably help his career if he was a burglar and a transsexual too.
Rob Holman, Chislehurst, Kent, England

The only question that should be asked is "Does Brian Paddick do his job well?" The answer's obviously yes.
Jennifer, United States of America

As an civilian Admin. Officer of the Gay and Lesbian Police Employees Network in Victoria, I have seen this type of homophobic reaction against fine upstanding police officers in recent years. However, our Police Force is now under the control of a new Chief Commissioner that has vision and understands that good policing does not depend on ones sexuality. Police Command in the UK need to catch up by by upholding the right and therefore reinstate Puddick.
Luke Bryant, Victoria, Australia.

I am intrigued to see how the Lambeth community responds, should Commander Paddick be permanently removed. How will having their wishes ignored, yet again, by arrogant, faceless individuals trying to please still others be taken by the community? Will they be spurred to riot by the violation of common justice and common sense? Wouldn't that be ironic.

The people who are against this man are all saying that he has committed criminal acts by smoking cannabis and having a relationship with a person on probation, which in their view are seriously criminal acts, and they claim that they are not prejudiced against him on account of his being a pervert. Of course he should be reinstated, and all the people who are against him should be first fired, then tied down and buggered by a rhinoceros.
Christopher Hobe Morrison, USA

The man is a disgrace to his uniform

Never. The man is a disgrace to his uniform. How can anyone in such a senior position have his views and command the respect of his colleagues? He should immediately resign or be fired.

By the logic that demoted this man from his job, the queen should also be demoted from her position as queen because prince Harry smoked cannabis at a Royal home. Double standards?
Rahul, UK

I seem to remember that John Stalker was subject to a campaign to remove him when he trod on the toes of some criminals in the midlands. I wonder to what extent the same problem has arisen here. The scum in society know that thanks to the fools who run our official bodies any allegation, however small and unbelievable will result in the suspension and disgrace of the public official named. The rank and file of the Police and teaching have been subject to such allegations for years; now the Senior Ranks are being destroyed in the same manner. The fault lies with a society that expects too much from 'ordinary people' whilst at the same time being unwilling to get involved themselves.
Barry P, England

The Police have a set of Regulations, which constables to chief constables are bound by. Paddick has had some serious allegations made regarding criminal drug use and failing to notify a meeting of a person on bail. One is a criminal offence and the other is a disciplinary offence. He is now attempting to use the press to clear himself. I wonder how many of the people at his rally were gay activists. If Mr Paddick's problems can be successfully blamed on a homophobic crusade then the result is a bent copper (no pun intended) breaking the law. Is this what people want? Is it ok for your local traffic officer to accept £50 to let you off speeding? I don't think so. There is another disciplinary offence of bringing the Police into disrepute, which Mr Paddick is now fulfilling nicely. I'm not surprised that his policies are popular with a percentage of the population. Legalise drugs and break the law¿ grow up
Rob, England

Even his enemies are unable to call into question Brian Paddick's integrity and ability

Theo, UK
Even his enemies are unable to call into question Brian Paddick's integrity and ability. Over and above that he has, by engaging with it, won the active support of a community traditionally hostile to the police. A newspaper has paid a vengeful ex-partner to make allegations which, having been published, require investigation. They in no way detract from Paddick's ability to do his job. But rules are rules. In other words, he's been fitted up. He's now been sidelined pending an inquiry. This may be normal procedure. But it is not required procedure. Brian Paddick should be reinstated as Lambeth Commander immediately, without waiting for the inquiry to run its course. Natural justice, police credibility and the people of Lambeth all demand it.
Theo, UK

I think that instead of persecuting a good policeman because he is gay we should start rooting out Freemasonry in the force. Thomas Hamilton would not have been allowed to keep handguns in his house had he not been a freemason, but then again, it's a corrupt state we live in, the police force is not much more than a private army for the rich.
Hiram Abif, UK

I think the people who feel he should be kicked out for breaking the law are plain wrong - this has not lead to disrespect for the police, in fact quite the opposite. Perhaps he should aim for MP instead.
Chris, UK

Some coverage of this story, particularly by the Mail on Sunday, has been a disgrace. Of course allegations about possible offences should be fully investigated. But Paddick's private life is his business. The allegations remain unproved, and he should return to his post. And we should stop reading the gutter press.
Paul, UK

Contrast Commander Paddick, an openly gay man, and a thoroughly honest cop with his boss, Commissioner Stevens, a Christian evangelical with less than liberal views. They both need each other more than anything else.
Thomas, UK

If Brian Paddick is dismissed does this then mean that every police officer will face regular drug tests?

Terry, UK
If Brian Paddick is dismissed does this then mean that every police officer will face regular drug tests? I can guarantee that following this there would be an awful lot less police officers around. It might be interesting to carry out a similar experiment with the staff of the Daily Mail - obviously being such an upstanding moral publication they wouldn't stand for any hypocrisy within their own ranks and would never employ self confessed drug using journalists like, erm, Julie Burchill.
Terry, UK

I live in Lambeth, and he's done a good job. Re-instate him.
liquidsnake125, UK

I have no doubt that Commander Paddick has prioritised which crimes are tackled due to the lack of police officers on the streets. A direct result in the cutting of the number of police officers by the current government. Therefore, he is still doing his job to the best of his ability and should therefore be re-instated.
Nic, England

I look forward to the (Hollywood-style) film. The flawed hero takes on the baddies to the horror his 'superiors', takes all the flack and comes out on top.
Mark Hallett, Spain

The statistics in Commander Paddicks Lambeth area speak for themselves. Fewer Police hours wasted on paper-work; lower levels of street crime; and a successful crack-down on hard-drug dealers! Comparing this list of successes with the aims of David Blunkett¿s latest initiative, Commander Paddick should be moving to top of the class. The Met should get on with its job, forget the Tabloids, and the long-term benefits to society will reap their own rewards ¿ a resurgence in respect for the Police in general.
Callum, Norway

I don't give a monkeys about someone smoking dope, but violent crime, mugging and burglaries need to be stopped.

Ed Vista, UK
Yes he should get his job back. I don't give a monkeys about someone smoking dope, but violent crime, mugging and burglaries need to be stopped. He does his job, and he does it well - he's made headway in stemming the types of crime that affect people directly - yet he's measured by his own personal life? It's time that policing went back to the Ten Commandments basics, rather than stay with this new age "we know what's good for you" politically correct standpoint.
Ed Vista, UK

With the Stephen Lawrence saga still fresh in many people's minds, I find it miraculous that a Metropolitan Police commander could earn such loyalty and respect from a community such as Lambeth. Commander Paddick's superiors should remember that this same community will be very displeased if they feel that institutionalised bigotry is still prevalent within the force.
Jon, Basingstoke, UK

Never thought I'd see the day when citizens of south London would demand a policeman's reinstatement.
M Bartlett, UK

The idea that he is persecuted because he is homosexual is absurd, since senior officers were always aware of it, and promoted him to high rank. The fact is, he has displayed that he either does not understand the law, or holds it in contempt. Both disqualify him from enforcing the law.
Guy Hammond, England

A flawed human hero, but a hero nonetheless

Chris Shannon, Italy
Paddick, unlike many officers in his position, appears to have some vocal support in the local community and from other parts of the country. The published early results of his initiative seem to vindicate his stance on differentiating between drugs and those who buy and use them in order to snuff out the hard drugs industry which fuels crime and violence. He is a self-declared, successful gay man in a line of work infamous for its intolerance of difference and intransigence to change.

In a striking departure from most of his professional peers he is prepared to debate with the public in the street, online and probably in any forum available where he can air his views on law, order and society. This is the mark of a man of courage and conviction. He is a feather-ruffler; of that there is no doubt. Such a person will, of course, from time to time make mistakes. Perhaps his musings on the attractions of anarchy were, in hindsight, unwise. Perhaps they were not. He did not, after all, endorse an anarchistic ideology; he merely admitted that certain aspects of anarchy appealed to him. Well who amongst us, hand on heart, could deny the appeal of a de-regulated world?

I find it very reassuring that a policeman, like Paddick, is prepared to entertain these ideas intellectually but dismiss them rationally. He's a far cry from the dim-witted, reactionary Plod whose ignorance does so much disservice to the nation and to their more enlightened colleagues. This guy is a hero, a flawed human hero, but a hero nonetheless. He puts his reputation, his career and his beliefs where his mouth is. Would that there were many more people in such positions. Let the man be judged by performance.
Chris Shannon, Italy

Finally, Lambeth has a police commander who is innovative, effective, and most importantly, respected by both the community and the rank and file of the Lambeth police force. Yet, the Police Authority is prepared to suspend him on the evidence of a spurned lover paid by the tabloid press for his 'story'. As a resident of Brixton, I really couldn't care less whether he smoked cannabis or not. If he did, at least it ensures that he is talking from a position of knowledge! All I know is that the man has done a very good job and deserves the chance to continue to improve our borough.
Bayo, UK

Let these sensible officers do their jobs.

Jay, England
How will we ever change things if we faceless bureaucrats and media chiefs keep preventing the people we want to from holding office. the smoking of cannabis is in my opinion a basic and harmless freedom, as people are dying of poor quality heroin and other drugs, any move towards the legalisation of all drugs and the opportunity for people to work their way out of addiction and seek help, as well as being able to buy their drugs from carefully controlled organisations instead of gangsters, can only be a good thing. cannabis is no big deal, but prohibition kills. Let these sensible officers do their jobs.
Jay, England

Is Mr Paddick being considered unsuitable for his position because he is gay or because he once knew someone who smoked cannabis? Is either of these against the law?

I suppose the argument is that if he knew his former partner was smoking pot, he should have arrested him. After all, it is not up to the police to choose which laws they enforce or not; a point I agree with wholeheartedly. However, I know policemen who say they would not stop a motorist who was travelling at 90mph on a motorway, provided they were driving in an otherwise sensible manner.
Gareth Graham, UK

Of course he should get his job back. He is a first rate policeman who has successfully tackled crime and won the respect of his community. Are we to allow the gutter press to choose who may and who may not hold office according to their own nasty prejudices?
John Yates, Finland

I live in Brixton, I want Brian Paddick back because he is trying to bring the police back into the community in Brixton.
andre.morelli, UK

Paddick's sexual orientation is irrelevant. His alleged offences relating to drugs are not. He should be investigated for the offence and the necessary criminal or internal disciplinary processes should ensue to determine his innocence or guilt as well as his suitability to continue in his present employment. He should (of course) be treated in accordance with his own policies regarding any alleged criminal activities. That really does seem quite straight forward, dealing with evidence rather than emotions.
S. Wilson, Canada

I feel really sorry for Brian Paddick, an officer who is obviously passionate about his job and popular with the community he serves. Recently I considered joining the police force after graduating but this whole event has put me off the idea... something I'm sure the Daily Mail would be very happy about.
Jason Mitchell, Hampshire, UK

Policing in this country is not for mavericks

David Ryan, England
Policing is about upholding the law and all current legislation. Policing in this country is not for mavericks as we operate through democracy and people in any position of authority should have the good sense to stay well within the law and not take advantage of their privileged position. This country has too many social problems because of a breakdown and crossing of such boundaries. So forget he is gay and just focus on the facts.
David Ryan, England

The claim that he's the victim of a homophobic smear campaign is a bit rich, he didn't reveal that he was homosexual until after he began to receive criticism for his actions. At the end of the day, he committed two criminal offences and as such should be dismissed. If such a highly ranked officer can get away with criminal behaviour, it will result in the entire force being labelled hypocritical.
Simon, UK

If a man is so respected in such a community then of course he should stay. If only every area could have a Brian Paddick, maybe the country would be a better place.
Martin Mace, England

I think it is outrageous that he has lost his job. I am a gay man, and my partner works in the police force. I am always being told what an open liberal force they are. They recognise same sex couples and do not prejudice against it. I feel really sorry for Brian Paddick, who has unnecessarily suffered from a horrible homophobic smear campaign. Ok he allowed cannabis to be smoked in his house (and many other people including police officers do so). The laws have just been changed to lower the criminalisation of the drug, surely he should get his wrists slapped and be allowed to get on with his job!
Adam Smith, ENGLAND

Any police officer will have a conflict to address

Oliver Ross, UK
Until the issue of smoking cannabis has been unequivocally decriminalised, any police officer will have a conflict to address. Some may disagree that Paddick has to set an example to the community but no one can get around the fact that cannabis is currently a controlled drug and that its use is a criminal offence. Commander Paddick cannot give himself the right to treat cannabis in any other way. The government's position on cannabis has been the cause of the current uncertainty and has resulted in this ambivalence between police and the "user groups".
Oliver Ross, UK

Even if he did smoke cannabis that should not in itself be grounds for removing him from his job. If every policeman/woman that committed a relatively minor offence such as this were removed from their post then the ranks of the Met would be very thin.
Danny Voisey, UK

By trying something alternative, the commander was onto a loser from the start. Subsequent vilification from a hostile media has once again proved that honest debate is dead and buried.
Jon Platt, UK

He has questionable judgement and uncertain standards

Peter Slater, UK
This man has demonstrated that he has questionable judgement and uncertain standards. He is in no position to judge others and should be removed before his views and actions are allowed to subvert others.
Peter Slater, UK

Big deal, he might have smoked cannabis. So have some MPs. So have a large portion of the population in this country. So the only copper with any brains has been demoted effectively. Bravo. Well done.
Scott Baldry, England

Paddick has far too much imagination, too much drive, too close an understanding of his role and the things that can be achieved to be allowed to continue. After all, what kind of message would it send to the rest of the force? That tolerance is a good thing? Ha! No, it is far better to let the tabloids have his head on a spear. This is the reward for anyone who dares to think up and implement plans to make England a better place to live in.
Paul Nagle, England

The community appreciates his style of policing

Mekibib Dawit, Ethiopian/UK
Commander Paddick is a pioneer and so is bound to be controversial. That doesn't mean his experiments have failed. The community in Brixton would love to have him back as he is someone they can work with based on a respectful, trusted and non-confrontational policing style. The community appreciates his style of policing; listening to the people who are directly affected by crime on how to do the job properly without alienating the majority of them. I think the Met should grow up and start tolerating dissent, as it will enrich its potential to be a force for good. I say give him back his job and let the people of Lambeth be the judge of his performance in the long run. I think to throw away a well-intended experiment on the technicalities of one officer's private life will be seen by the wider public as pathetic witch hunt.
Mekibib Dawit, Ethiopian/UK

He's shown maverick tendencies and should not be reinstated

Peter Nicholson, Canada
He's shown maverick tendencies and should not be reinstated. He demonstrates unorthodox views not in keeping with a high-ranking police officer. Always, when anybody disagrees with a subject that a declared gay person has put forth, they are labelled homophobic. His use of this term alone is enough to validate his demotion, or more befitting, retirement from the force.
Peter Nicholson, Canada

The Metropolitan Police Authority's suggestion to move Brian Paddick is a sad attempt to sweep their problems under the carpet. It is time this country's ridiculous cannabis laws were abolished. There is a growing dislike in the young community for the police and maybe if there were more police officers such as Brian Paddick, the younger generation would have more respect for them. Of course he should get his job back - he's done nothing wrong!
Phil Clarke, UK

If the Met backs down it will give carte blanche to gay officers to do what they like

Iain Ross, UK
Mr Paddick was living with a man on bail for a serious offence and did not notify his superiors. That is something the police are not allowed to do. A sideways move to a less high-profile role while this charge is investigated is a lot better treatment than many officers could expect, namely suspension from duty - maybe on full pay. His sexuality is irrelevant - it is possible for a gay man to breach the terms and conditions of their employment and face disciplinary action without it being a homophobic crusade. If the Met backs down on this issue it will give carte blanche to gay officers to do what they like, knowing that if disciplinary proceedings are begun they just have to shout "It's not fair, you're just doing this because I'm homosexual" - which would be, quite simply, farce.
Iain Ross, UK

It seems that Brian Paddick has two things that elude most senior police officers: the support of the community and complete honesty about his personal life. Give him his job back, he seems to be doing it more than adequately.
Andy, London, UK

He has been the architect of his own destruction

Mark Carter, England
Brian Paddick's ideas are all brilliant, but he has been the architect of his own destruction. You can't change a conservative institution like the police by confronting it head on. To believe he could smacks of arrogance. He has said that he has been "crucified." Perhaps this has happened because he believed he could walk on water.
Mark Carter, England

Of course not! The man's clearly a fool - he managed to repair police-community relations in Lambeth, reduce serious crime and free up police time. Who does he think he is? He's going to make everyone else look bad, so the sooner he can be moved on as the result of a tabloid stitch-up the better!
Mathias, Lambeth, UK

Policy towards cannabis is about to change country-wide

Luke, South Africa/UK
With regard to Paddick's strategy to shift policing away from cannabis arrests, why is this a problem when policy towards cannabis is about to change country-wide?
Luke, South Africa/UK

Regardless of Paddick's purported offences, he is clearly an individual that is deeply passionate about his community. His comments on the internet are carefully considered and honest.
Hugh Smith, London, UK

He broke the law by both allowing cannabis to be smoked in his home, and by having a relationship with someone who was on bail. Of course he shouldn't get his job back.
Martin, England

The discussion of him being gay is totally irrelevant and utterly offensive. He has more common sense and is more in touch with the general population than others in the police force.
Patricia Blazey, UK

It is time for Paddick to go quietly

Chris Pratley, England
It is time for Paddick to go quietly. British policing is too important for public debate to be reduced to the level of whether one gay man smoked cannabis or not. As with all those in public office, mud sticks - it is time for Mr. Paddick to be moved aside in favour of someone else, and for the debate to return to the real issue, i.e. the prevention and detection of crime. After all, that is what British taxpayers are paying for, not another media circus.
Chris Pratley, England

When I heard Brixton residents were campaigning for a policeman's reinstatement I checked to see if it wasn't April already. Mr Paddick should be reinstated immediately. The police are always complaining the public doesn't trust them but when they get an officer people actually respect he gets removed from his job thanks to homophobic smears.
Iain, UK

Lousy taste in boyfriends

Bas Hagreis, UK
Paddick is the victim of a homophobic, anti-liberal smear campaign. Lambeth residents regard him as effective in his work so he should stay. Lousy taste in boyfriends though.
Bas Hagreis, UK

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