Over the last few days ago two pieces of news emerged that don’t have any connections and yet they resonated in my mind along with some other cases. The first piece of news came in a monthly update from Chief Superintendent Nick May who is the Divisional Commander for Brighton and Hove. Nick produces an update that outlines some of the elements that his team have been involved in. His February piece included a reference to the conviction of a man who drove into a group of people on the seafront on the 1st December 2019. This involved the murder of a young man called Suel Delgado from Crawley and two of his friends who were injured. The driver of the car and his brother were sentenced on 4th February. In his update Nick May wrote
“the judge at the trial, HHJ Laing QC, commended the determination of Sussex Police officers to conduct a thorough investigation and to bring the offender to justice. The victim was a young man from Crawley, Suel Delgado, who had simply come to the city for a night out with friends. A terrible tragedy for Suel’s family and friend, but also for society.”
Although it is not connected, six weeks after the violent attack on our seafront and the tragic death of Suel while Brighton and Hove Police were dealing with this issue, a debate took place in the House of Lords and one of the people speaking on the subject of the Queens Speech was John Stevens. He stated
“It was 20 years ago this week that I was appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. As many noble Lords will know, it was a police service that was lacking in confidence, from the public and within itself, having been found wanting by the public inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson. Many in the service claimed that morale was at its lowest point ever. We sought to restore confidence and pride in being a police officer. At the heart of this was the need to grow police numbers, to provide the support so badly needed by those responsible, day in, day out, for policing our streets and keeping us safe in our homes.”
Then a week ago today, a couple of days after the update that came from Nick May it was announced nationally that Sir William Macpherson had died aged 94. Inevitably the news of his death was published along with many images and verbal reminders of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Sadly, the murder of Stephen Lawrence which took place in Eltham on 22nd April in 1993 was handled very badly by the Metropolitan Police at the time and that was why William Macpherson spent a significant amount of his life to find ways to improve how Police Services would handle such cases in the future. His public inquiry was set out six years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence and it called for a large number of changes by Police and indeed by other Public Sector bodies. Many agencies including Sussex Police have adopted these recommendations very seriously. The recent announcement from Judge Laing reflects on the positive aspects of how Sussex Police as a whole and the Brighton and Hove Division have worked very hard to protect all of us over recent years. Of course, mistakes do still occur within all organisations, but I have had the privilege to speak to a significant number of people from within Sussex Police over many years and they clearly work extremely hard to ensure that their organisation is as effective as possible. Whenever mistakes get made, they work hard to avoid them happening again.
Over the last 9 months several public events have taken place in Brighton under the heading of Black Lives Matter and the way that Sussex Police have responded demonstrates their commitment to improve the lives of people in our nation. The Murder of George Floyd which took place in Minneapolis on 25th May 2020 by a Police Officer understandably led to a number of events across the world and Brighton is one of the highest profile locations in the UK for public events. Clearly some local people oppose such events and such campaigns but I was delighted to see how the Police in Brighton and Hove responded on each of the occasions. Clearly the murders of George Floyd, Suel Delgado and Stephen Lawrence were appalling and the death of William Macpherson is sad despite his old age. However, each of these men are people we can reflect on this year and into the future. The same is true of the two Sussex Police Officers who have tragically died in the last few days and those who get attacked as they try to defend our communities every day of each year.