UK Needs To Learn From Other Countries, US Supercop Bill Bratton Says

Bill Bratton

First Posted: 15/08/11 07:24 Updated: 14/10/11 11:12   PA

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Former US police chief Bill Bratton has hit out at critics opposing the Government's consultation of foreign experts to improve British policing following violent rioting across England.

Mr Bratton, who will next month advise the Government on gangs and crime in the wake of the disorder, indicated the UK needed to learn lessons from other countries if its own forces are to move forward.

"Anyone who looks only inwards is not going to be as successful as someone who looks outside, the world over. It's a big world out there," he said in an interview with the Guardian.

The appointment of the former New York police commissioner was attacked over the weekend by Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who said the UK had no lessons to learn from gang-ridden America.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, he said: "I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them. It seems to me, if you've got 400 gangs, then you're not being very effective. If you look at the style of policing in the States, and their levels of violence, they are fundamentally different from here.

But "supercop" Mr Bratton said Sir Hugh himself was successful as an Englishman coming in as an outsider to run the police in Northern Ireland. "I find it ironical, the hue and cry about outsiders," he added.

Mr Bratton also said he could lead British policing out of "crisis", reduce crime despite budget cuts, and bring about "transformational" change in the aftermath of the disorder.

"The Met is having its share of issues and leadership crises, certainly. It is a mirror image of when I went into the NYPD and LAPD, and both those cities turned out quite well," he said. "I've been an outsider in every department I've worked in. Bureaucrats change processes, leaders change culture. I think of myself as a transformational leader who changes cultures."

The 63-year-old, who is now a security consultant, added: "You can run around saying, 'The sky is falling in, the sky is falling in,' or you actually do something about it. You have to play the hand you're dealt. I've always dealt initially with budget cuts.

"Out of crisis come opportunities. If you want to speed up the process of change, nothing does it better than a good old crisis."

Over the past two decades Mr Bratton has gained a reputation for introducing bold measures to reduce crime, heading police departments in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. In his first two years at the helm of New York Police Department reports of serious crime dropped 27%.

Rank and file police officers said they were "angry" at the Prime Minister's decision to contact Bill Bratton.

Ian Hanson, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, urged Mr Cameron to listen to those who "live and police the communities affected" rather than "someone who lives 5,000 miles away".

Mr Hanson, whose force tackled hundreds of rioters in Manchester city centre and Salford on Tuesday night, told ITV news it is "absolutely incredible" that the Prime Minister had asked for the American's advice.

"What we've witnessed this week has been British policing at its absolute best," Mr Hanson said. "There is anger, there is disappointment, a degree of incredulity as well. We're local people who live in the communities, who work in the communities and police them. He needs to speak to us, not someone who lives 5,000 miles away."

Mr Hanson said there were not enough police officers at the start of this week's riots because the Government has cut police numbers. He added: "One thing that Bill Bratton did when he took over in New York in 1994, was he increased the establishment of New York City police by 5,000 officers. How an earth are we going to replicate that with cuts approaching 30,000 police officers?"

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Filed by Jacqueline Head  |