The funeral of PC David Phillips, killed in the line of duty when attempting to stop a stolen vehicle, was a massively sombre event for the entire devastated British police service and extended police family. The funeral itself, well covered by all news channels, was a fitting tribute to a remarkable police officer and human being.
His tragic death in early October was to herald a month of extreme violence against police officers while the funeral of PC Phillips itself came just hours after Metropolitan Police officers had come under vicious attack from mobs who were prepared to 'take on' officers in numerous physical confrontations. You tube footage of the Halloween Lambeth riot makes chilling viewing yet played little part in media reporting with the exception of Monday's BBC London News.
Police confront rioters in Lambeth over the weekend.
The effusive praise of the police service by David Cameron and Theresa May on the day of PC Phillips' death was allowed to pass without comment by serving and retired police officers out of respect for the family. Sadly such statements had a sell by date of precisely two days as was seen when the Prime Minister addressed the Tory party conference.
In that speech, David Cameron made just one reference to police as follows: "Opportunity doesn't mean much to a black person constantly stopped and searched by the police because of the colour of their skin." By effectively again labelling the police as racist so soon after the death of a serving officer that one sentence served only to confirm the sheer contempt that those in government have shown for the police service since they came to power.
Police, of course, have had to learn to live with denigration from politicians over the years, yet now that denigration comes from both the right and left of the political spectrum. Who would have thought that a right wing home secretary would be singing from the same hymn sheet as the extreme black left wing activist Lee Jasper.
Yet, in spite of the bile and amidst tragedy, policing continues, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just ten days after the death of PC Phillips the shooting of a Metropolitan Police officer in the immediate aftermath of a Hackney drugs raid again prompted just a flicker of interest from the media.
This was followed by shots being fired at unarmed officers in Essex which resulted in several arrests and then a fusillade of gunfire struck an unmarked police vehicle in a gang ridden part of Brent; the statement from the Met that the police vehicle was not targeted and the shooting was 'random' was greeted with derision by front line officers throughout London.
The denigration of police continued apace when Theresa May addressed the National Black Police Association (NBPA). It was perhaps inevitable that she would choose the occasion to launch yet another attack on policing to an audience who could be relied upon to lend a sympathetic ear.
Once again she accused police of being racist in respect of stop and search and then breathtakingly denied that the current increase in London stabbings was linked to a reduction in stop and search. Of course Theresa May decided to ignore the fact that a totally disproportionate number of victims of London street knife crime are black. She also of course, failed to point out that the social conditions in which gangs and violent crime flourish are the responsibility of successive inept governments not the police.
Embarrassingly she then accused police forces of not recruiting more black officers and in doing so 'named and shamed' forces who she alleged had failed to recruit any. Doubtless her luckless researcher caught a broadside on her return to the Home Office as her facts were quite simply wrong. She also failed to mention that the 'disgraced' forces were located in those parts of the country where just a tiny proportion of the resident population are what is termed BME (black and minority ethic).
Perhaps Theresa May should also have reflected that the more she and her 'allies' effectively accuse police of being racist, the less likelihood there is of more BME officers being recruited.
Her 'ally' Lee Jasper, when arguing with a black officer on twitter, tweeted thus: "You're white or some kind of wretched ass kissing uncle tom." Little wonder then that young black men and women aren't falling over themselves to join the Met or indeed any other British force; in fact it's amazing that in these circumstances the number of black officers is as high as it is.
Whilst the NBPA may have been content with her statements on stop and search and recruiting they could hardly have been impressed when she returned to her mantra of 'police reform is working' and 'crime is down.' Black police officers, like their white colleagues, are only too well aware that all is not well in the world of British policing.
They, surely, will also be concerned that the disintegration of community policing will impact on all communities in deprived inner city areas be they in London, Manchester or Glasgow, and it is these areas, as stated above, where knife and gun crime is at its most prevalent. It is also these areas that will also be most affected by government austerity policies which will only increase pressure on rapidly diminishing police resources.
Whatever merits that may have been perceived in Theresa May's speech, the assertion that the policing front line has been 'preserved' is arrant nonsense. The dramatic reduction in both mounted and dog units is huge blow to those on the front line as is the reduction in helicopter cover.
Equally absurd is the claim that bureaucracy has been reduced when officers now have to back fill tasks previously undertaken by police staff.
All these and other arguments surfaced and resurfaced during the month of October as did questions concerning low morale amongst officers, increasing rates of assaults on police and stress related police sickness. Then out of the blue came another issue that would increase the propensity for sleepless nights; compulsory redundancy for police officers.
The decision by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) as to whether to ask the Home Secretary for what would effectively be a change in the law which would enable them to make officers redundant, was deferred. It is however likely to surface again when the true nature of the spending review becomes apparent.
Any brownie points the Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe may have gained from his officers in respect of his 'flip flop' on stop and search quickly evaporated when it emerged that he had already approached the government in respect of being able to sack officers. 'Judas' Chief Constables who support the concept of sacking their officers, will not be forgiven by the rank and file who know that they are likely to become expendable as they become more expensive.
The NPCC meeting to discuss redundancy coincided with the occasion of the Police Bravery Awards which attracted a degree of media attention with Sky News receiving plaudits for its coverage.
Both the Prime Minister and Theresa May were involved in the ceremony and again the police community generally bit their lips not wishing to tarnish a memorable occasion that would, rightly, mean so much to the heroic officers and their families. Perhaps however in future, William and Harry would have more in common with brave police officers than hypocritical, opportunist politicians.
Memories of PC Phillips' funeral will be permanently etched upon the minds of those within the police community and officers hope they never again will have to attend the funeral of a colleague killed in the line of duty. Those same officers however will be only too well aware that, as the thinning blue line begins to fracture, they themselves will be become ever more vulnerable to rising violent crime and the increased threat of terrorism.