Friday, 29 March 2013


Lord Dear & Steve at the House of Lords

With immense pride, I met with The Lord Geoffrey Dear Kt QPM DL at the House of Lords this week.

Lord Dear was Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police from 1985 to 1990 when he became one of her Majesties Inspectors of Constabulary.  He was described by the broadcaster Sir Robin Day as "the best known and most respected police officer of his generation". Having served in the West Midlands whilst Lord Dear was in charge, I would totally endorse that comment.

Readers will know that we posted our support of Lord Dear recently. when he wrote an article in the Times that outlined the need for Leadership in policing. As a result of that article and contact with Lord Dear, he kindly extended the invite to the Lords. The article link is below if you missed it.

23 years after his retirement from the West Midlands force, it was a privilege to meet the “Boss” again. Now 75, Lord Dear is even more pragmatic and eloquent than I remembered.

Lord Dear acted as our guide, with fascinating insights into the history and activities of the Lords, against the splendour and majesty of the building. For anyone who has not had the privilege of a tour you may wish to click the links below to see a short video and an online tour of the Lords.


This tour is also available on Youtube at

The most enjoyable moments however were the conversations over coffee. Lord Dear is an engaging and compelling speaker, both publicly and one to one.  34 years as a police officer, many in the most senior capacity has endowed him with vast experience of policing, justice, the law, politics and business. It was most pleasing to hear his common sense views and values on important subjects such as free speech, international business affairs, the malaise that presently exists in UK policing resulting from the lack of real leadership right through to the thorny subject of gay marriage. In a letter to more than 400 peers, Lord Dear criticised the way David Cameron “shunted” the bill through “a very one-sided” Commons committee stage after “wholly inadequate” scrutiny in the Commons.
He said his initial soundings suggested there was a real possibility that the bill could now “go down” in the Lords despite support in the Commons.
“The thing that really bothers many is that the normal process for something as potentially divisive as this has not been followed.”
“The feeling in the Lords is that although (in the Commons) the whip was officially declared not to be on there was a lot of arm twisting going on.”

Another of Lord Dears passions is that of free speech. Perhaps the best example of this is his tabling of the proposal to remove the word “insulting” from section 5(1)a of the 1986 Public Order Bill.

To see Lord Dear introducing the amendment go to

Lord Dears passionate and compelling drive for the changes to Section 5, attracted the support of no less than Rowan Atkinson.
As Rowan commented, it is strange that this act, unless amended with continue to represent life imitating fictional humour characters, as in the Not The 9 O'Clock News sketch about a manifestly racist Constable Savage...
The problematic section of the act reads:-

A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a)uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and the other person is also inside that or another dwelling.
(3)It is a defence for the accused to prove—
(a)that he had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, or
(b)that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling, or
(c)that his conduct was reasonable.
(4)A constable may arrest a person without warrant if—
(a)he engages in offensive conduct which a constable warns him to stop, and
(b)he engages in further offensive conduct immediately or shortly after the warning.
(5)In subsection (4) “offensive conduct” means conduct the constable reasonably suspects to constitute an offence under this section, and the conduct mentioned in paragraph (a) and the further conduct need not be of the same nature.
(6)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

With his customary eloquence Lord Dear opened the debate with:-

“My Lords, in introducing Amendment 119 I have in the front of my mind the words attributed to Voltaire as far back as 1759:

"I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

That is what it is all about tonight. The amendment seeks to curb what I believe is an increasing misuse of the criminal law so as to curb or prevent the proper exercise of free speech. The amendment intends that the word "insulting" should be taken out of Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and that Section 6 of that Act should be similarly amended to take account of the earlier change”.

On the Thin Blue Line, this is a subject particularly close to our hearts for the following reasons:-

  • We feel the demise of responsible whistle blowing police blogs is largely due to extreme pressure forced upon their authors, effectively restricting free speech. This is often as a result of accusations that authors have brought their force or individuals into disrepute. The withdrawal of the hugely popular Inspector Gadget blog is the most recent example.
  • We have reported frequently on these pages that Section 5 has been widely abused as a result of Chief Officers identifying it as an easy win offence where detections are more likely. However, the matters under investigation are all too often minor domestic issues that should really not form part of police activity unless to protect life and property which is rarely the case. The common example is that of estranged couples, allegedly insulting each other to the point where one or both can allege being in fear, when in fact this is more often than not a ploy used by either or both to call in the support of the authorities to exert control over their former partner. Chief Officers have all too often been guilty of “Gaming” in the form of “Skewing” which is redeploying resources to the easy wins to the detriment of more difficult to resolve crimes that the public have a genuine fear of.
  • Section 5 appears in its 000’s in the recorded crime registers, distorting the real picture of crime and criminalising otherwise innocent members of the public who will falsely admit alleged offences for fear of the trauma and uncertainty of prosecution.  
Geoffrey James Dear, Baron Dear, QPM, DL  is a retired British police officer. His career makes interesting reading. 

  • 1956: Joined Peterborough Combined Police (which became part of Mid-Anglia Constabulary in 1965) as a Cadet then as a Constable   
  • 1965: Went to University College, London on a Bramshill Scholarship to study law. Graduating in 1968
  • 1968: Served as divisional commander in Cambridge
  • 1972: Appointed Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) of Nottinghamshire Combined Constabulary
  • 1975 to 1977: Seconded to Bramshill Police College as Director of Command Training.
  • 1979: Awarded the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct for his arrest of an armed and mentally deranged man who held his infant son hostage and barricaded himself in a house after a shooting incident.

Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct
Geoffrey James DEAR, Assistant Chief Constable, Nottinghamshire Constabulary. For services leading to the arrest of an armed and mentally deranged man who held his infant son hostage in a barricaded house following a shooting incident.

  • 1980: Transferred to the Metropolitan Police as Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Training). In this role he came to public attention as he instituted racial awareness training for police officers in the wake of the Brixton riots, into which he also conducted an internal investigation.
  • 1981: Appointed Assistant Commissioner "D" (Personnel and Training
  • 1982: He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal (QPM)
  • 1983: Headed the Met's investigation into the shooting of Steven Waldorf.
  • 1984: Became Assistant Commissioner "A" (Operations and Administration) of the Metropolitan Police. He was the last officer to hold the post of Assistant Commissioner "A" before it was abolished in the reorganisation later that year.
  • 1985: Became Chief Constable of West Midlands Police. In the West Midlands, he quickly came to the fore with his handling of the aftermath of the shooting by police of a young boy and, separately, the aftermath of the 1985 Handsworth riots. He instituted wide-ranging changes in that force, both administratively and operationally.
  • 1989: He headed the investigation into the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster, the findings of which were roundly endorsed by the 2012 Independent Enquiry into the same occurrence.
  • 1990: He was appointed one of HM Inspectors of Constabulary.

1997: He was knighted in

the 1997 New Year Honours,
shortly before his retirement.


  • 1997 to 1998: He was a member of the Glidewell review into the Crown Prosecution Service from and advised the Auld Review of the Criminal Courts process in 2002 and the Virdi Enquiry in 2003.
  • 2 May 2006: Dear was created a life peer as Baron Dear, of Willersey in the County of Gloucestershire.
  • He has held a number of remunerated positions as non-executive director or chairman, and is currently non-executive chairman of Blue Star Capital plc.
  • He takes an active and regular part in the business of the House of Lords, speaking from the cross benches on home affairs, criminal justice, and rural affairs. In 2008 he successfully lead opposition in the House of Lords to defeat the Government's intention to extend from 28 to 42 days the length of time that suspected terrorists could be held without charge.
  • He is Deputy Lieutenant of Worcestershire, was Vice-Lord Lieutenant of that county from 1998 to 2001, and is an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn. He is a Fellow of University College, London and an Honorary Fellow of Birmingham City University
Lord Dear

Please accept our warm and sincere thanks for the superb welcome and kind hospitality shown to us during our visit.

The subjects covered resonated strongly with us all and we will continue to take a great interest in the work and debates where you are involved. It is a great comfort to meet someone in a position of influence who is so in touch with the general feelings and views of so many in the community.
With warmest regards and best wishes
Steve Bennett
Retired Police Officer
West Midlands Police
Creator and Author of the Thin Blue Line UK
Post script...
After the photo's were taken and Lord Dear returned to his duties inside the building, we had a thoroughly enjoyable 20 minutes chatting with the DPG guys on duty at the Peers entrance. A pleasant surprise, in  these dark days of policing, to meet a group of guys and girls with a sense of humour and obvious passion for the job. Thank heavens the majority of coppers do not reflect the disgraceful behavious or some of their Chiefs and seniors of recent months. Great to meet you guys, and a massive thank you, to you and all the other rank and file front line coppers for all that you continue to do for us.  


Crime Analyst said...

For the Attention of MTG - Melvyn T Gray.

Your comment : "Only outrageous hypocrisy could reconcile your support of 'free speech' with your censorship of those citizens who dare to speak out against an ineffective, lazy and corrupt police 'service'".

It is your unsupported attacks on website authors, the police and justice system that results in your being censored and vetted by this site and others. You are the author of your own misfortune.

If you read articles on this site, you will find plenty of criticism of the police service. Indeed that is why the site was created, to highlight the malaise that exists within the service in the hope that it may assist reform and change.

I served during a time when evidence, common sense and a desire to serve drove policing decisions. Today, the service is hindered by bureaucracy and a lack of quality leadership.
As a retired officer, I am free of the constraints of the serving bloggers. A criticism of some (not all) of the serving bloggers is that they are defensive to the point of selective myopia.

Check out the detailed reports in the side bar to the right. You will find many instances where I have highlighted ineffectiveness and potentially corrupt or unprofessional activity. Recent articles about the disgraceful conduct of some senior officers are another example.

Constructive, evidence based criticism will never be rejected on these pages. In fact these are always welcome as valuable material for reform. However, what I will not condone is the plethora of unsubstantiated attacks with no evidence to support them.

There is a lot wrong with the service, but much of this is down to process, systems and antiquated, often misdirected or divisive, corruptive strategies of Chief Officers. The recent articles supporting Lord Dear and his concerns for the quality of police leadership is a case in point.

There is much to be reformed; however, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The majority of officers are loyal and committed. They joined with the honourable intentions of protecting life and property, preventing and detecting crime, yet they are frustrated with the obfuscation caused by the Chief Officers self-motivated strategies. I will not publish puerile comments that comprise of unwarranted, unsubstantiated attacks of the police. There is enough genuine material for reform.

My last piece of advice to you Melvyn is this. If you have genuine substantiated grievances and complaints to air, then do so professionally. Provide evidence to support your views. I will not publish scurrilous attacks on the service that arrive without any substance. I will seriously consider any posting that is clearly supported by evidence and is relevant to the cause of reform in the service.

Ask yourself the question "Why are my posts so frequently dismissed as spam and not published?" Point your forefinger at someone in an accusing manner and you will usually find the other three fingers pointing back at yourself as an indicator of responsibility.
Word your posts in a less offensive, attacking way, with real content rather than unsupported attacks and possibly, just possibly, authors will recognise some value in publishing them.
Feelings of anger and resentment are best conveyed in a calm, clear content rich way. Anyone can write "All Coppers Are Bastards" but without substance, this is just another unwarranted attack and patently untrue. Sadly, this is what you have become renowned for, hence the troll categorisation of your contributions.

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got."
W. L. Bateman

With kind regards
Steve Bennett
Retired Police Officer
Editor of The Thin Blue Line

dickiebo said...

Hear, hear! However....Can't say I now agree with:-
They joined with the honourable intentions of protecting life and property, preventing and detecting crime
I think that today's news of 1,400 applying for the 14 positions at Stafford tends to show that it's simply considered a well-paid job to have.

surreywebmaster said...

Looks like you had a very enjoyable day Steve. I have had the pleasure of a similar tour but not with such an illustrious companion.

What struck me about Lord Dear was that he started his career in another venerable and ancient office, that of constable. He remained a constable throughout his career and served in every rank until he became a Chief Constable. Along the way he gained invaluable expertise that cannot be learned in a month or two.

That begs the question, 'how does the Home Secretary think she can parachute people with little or no experience into senior police officer posts?'

Another notable worthy is Lord Imbert who was Assistant Chief Constable, and later Deputy Chief Constable of the Surrey Constabulary after he came to note as the chief negotiator over the six days of the Balcombe Street Siege, a siege that was brought to a peaceful conclusion with no lives lost.

Let us not forget the contribution that people like Lord's Dear and Imbert have made and continue to make to British society, I wish them well.

As for the so called 'Dr' Gray, (he is obviously missing Inspector Gadget), you have published a full response to this person who seems to take great delight in trashing everything the British police service stands for but suffice it to say that he will forever pale in comparison to people like Dear and Imbert.

archytas said...

Melvin hardly has ACAB across his knuckles Steve. I share some of his views and I'm pretty sure he is aware of some of the complex theory and critique difficult to get over in comment. One of these is 'backfire' - a bit of psychology that works rather well in explaining the smears campaigns that whistle-blowers face when they bring something to public scrutiny.
I don't hold with some of what MTG has to say - but then I don't feel I have to. It's the old Enoch Powell thing of not agreeing with what someone says, perhaps even vehemently opposing it, yet being prepared to defend to the death the right to say it.
Allcoppedout - one can hardly have a well argued and detailed exchange with a 4000 character limit Steve.

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