A FORMER RAF regiment squadron leader who became the first person to join a Yorkshire police force as superintendent without serving as a constable has apologised for comments that appeared to compare his lower-ranking colleagues to binmen.
Adam Thomson, who joined North Yorkshire Police in 2014 as part of the Government’s direct entry scheme, angered constables with remarks made in an academic journal.
Describing the 12 weeks patrolling that direct entry superintendents are required to do alongside constables and sergeants as part of their training, he is reported to have said: “If I was training to be the leader of the council, I wouldn’t be asked to do a few mornings with the bin lorry first.”
Though the comments were made anonymously, North Yorkshire Police confirmed they were made by Mr Thomson after a policing blog called for him to take responsibility for what he had said.
Mr Thomson said in a statement to The Yorkshire Post: “I have the utmost respect for police personnel at all levels, and any comments I made about how direct entrants are trained were certainly not intended to denigrate the important work that PCs do.
“Personally I found the PC rotation essential to understanding the work of a constable, and I’d like to thank the officers that were part of my rotation, and who provided a valuable insight that will help me in my command.
If the reporting of what I said caused offence to police constables, I apologise.Adam Thomson
“The point I was trying to make was that in other sectors it is usual to enter the organisation at different levels and – with the right training and support – be successful. If the reporting of what I said caused offence to police constables, I apologise.”
Steve White, head of the Police Federation which represents 124,000 constables, sergeants and inspectors, told The Times that the comment had been received “like a fart in a spacesuit”.
Mike Stubbs, Chairman of North Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “The comments, if as reported, were unfortunate. None of our members have yet complained to us.
“Perhaps that is because, as police officers, they all know that their words and actions can be subject to the most intense scrutiny and criticism, even where they have acted with the very best of intentions.
“I hope this something that Superintendent Thomson and others will reflect on, when dealing with allegations against our members in the future.”
Prior to joining North Yorkshire Police, Mr Thomson served much of his career at 34th Squadron of The Royal Air Force Regiment, a ground fighting force based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.
After working as a flight commander and forward air controller at various points, and with tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia, among others, under his belt, by the time he left the RAF Regiment in September 2013 he had risen to squadron leader in charge of soldiers responsible for protecting air bases from hostile forces.
Earlier this month, after an 18-month course, he became one of the country’s first direct-entry recruits at superintendent level. There are approximately 800 superintendents in England and Wales who have operational responsibilities for local divisions and major investigations.
First launched in 2014, the idea of direct entry at superintendent level is described as ending the point of principle established by Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern British policing in 1829, that all officers began as constables.
The Government hopes to improve leadership standards by bringing in people with experience and skills from other areas.
The first direct entry group were interviewed at length between October 2014 and May last year for a University of Portsmouth research paper, which was released to coincide with their graduation.
It described how some of the superintendents believed that six-week patrols with constables and sergeants had “limited value” in their training.
Mr Thomson was named as the officer behind the comments on the Bosco’s Blog website, written by a retired Dorset police officer.
He wrote: “What’s been said cannot be unsaid. There are consequences for the author of those remarks. The severity of those consequences will increase exponentially with the time it takes for them to make reparation.
“So I say this to Supt Adam Thomson from North Yorkshire Police: Defy those who hold the belief that you are arrogant, out of touch, entitled, lacking in integrity and moral courage and come out from the shadows and make your peace.
“If nothing else, you owe this much to your cohort who have overcome so much to earn the trust and respect of others. Whether you will earn the trust and respect of those who serve in your force and beyond is only something you can control.”
A spokesman from North Yorkshire Police said: “Direct entrants are encouraged to be reflective and to bring a different perspective to policing, so it perhaps isn’t surprising that they expressed different views on the PC rotation that formed part of their training.
“At North Yorkshire Police we believe it is important that direct entrants are exposed to the grass-root business of policing as part of their training, but that is not the same as saying that a Superintendent needs to have worked through every rank before they take up command.
“As a service we recognise the need to be open to different approaches.”