UK’s former top cop speaks on campus
In a speech on campus last week, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police reflected on the "relatively precarious nature of the contract between police and public" and the nature of "policing by consent" in a modern world.
Sussex played host to Lord (Ian) Blair on Wednesday (23 November) as he delivered a lecture on 'Crime, counter-terrorism and police legitimacy'.
In his speech to more than 150 students, staff and members of the wider community, Lord Blair spoke about the nature of consent in policing and gave his reflections on policing in a context of international terrorism and times of public disorder.
Lord Blair was also highly critical of the government's proposal to created elected Police Commissioners, which he called "quite simply the most lamentable provision about policing which I have ever encountered".
He argued: "It will set back 60 years of progress towards the establishment of the operational independence of the police, the jewel in the crown of British policing and its most important contribution to the rule of law in this country, with unforeseeable consequences.
"To replace Police Authorities with a single, directly elected person is to introduce a foreign species into an indigenous environment without knowing what the impact will be: it is historically ignorant and geographically wide of the mark."
Lord Blair also spoke of his affection for the University of Sussex and the local region: his wife comes from the area and they married in the nearby village of Glynde; and their daughter studied at and graduated recently from the University.
Questions from students and staff ranged across issues of police accountability and police tactics and handling of demonstrations, as well as Lord Blair's pension entitlement.
The lecture was part of the 'Issues in Criminal Justice' series at Sussex, convened by Professor Stephen Shute on behalf of the Sussex Law School and given by leading UK figures including government ministers and senior members of the judiciary.
Professor Shute, Head of the School of Law, Politics and Sociology, said: "Having the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to speak provided invaluable insights for our students, as well as to faculty and members of the wider legal community in the region."