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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.
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.
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.
I wonder if the people supporting Paddock would feel the same if he had been accused of inciting racial hatred.. thought not.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
I live in Lambeth, and he's done a good job. Re-instate him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Never thought I'd see the day when citizens of south London would demand a policeman's reinstatement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
I live in Brixton, I want Brian Paddick
back because he is trying to bring
the police back into the community
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mekibib Dawit, Ethiopian/UK
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bas Hagreis, UK
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