Police Sergeant Harry Tangye

Harry Tangye is a 27 year veteran of the Devon and Cornwall Police. He is currently a firearms commander, VIP protection officer and a firearms post incident manager.

As we walk on the outskirts of Dartmoor national park in Devon we discuss social media from a policing point of view, PTSD and the procedures surrounding police officers in post incident shootings.

“Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t enough!”


Harry Tangye police blog

Devon and Cornwall Police

Sarah Green Deputy Commissioner IPCC

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Deputy Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, Lancashire Constabulary

img_7180Andy Rhodes is currently the Deputy Chief Constable of the Lancashire Constabulary and the national lead for wellbeing for the police services within England and Wales.

In a remarkably candid interview he shares with me his vision of the future; where the police service is at the moment and some of his own battles that have shaped him into the leader he is today.

“How you feel is everything!”

Its a fascinating insight into a senior leader within senior management.




The “Buzz” mentioned in this podcast is an internal intranet chat board for the employee’s of Lancashire Constabulary to share their views and discuss topics.

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An introduction to the new Well Being podcasts.

img_7180After several years of blogging  (which you can still find on this site should you wish to explore)  I have now moved into a medium that I have loved since I was a child and that is radio!. Except its no longer that crackly late night broadcast whose quality  depended as much as the quality of the weather as it did on the speakers it was listened through.

With the coming age of modern social media anyone can now be a radio star. But the whole point of this new project is not for you to read this narrative but to listen.

I invite you to follow me as I explore well being not only within the police service but in its wider contexts. And as with any open ended journey we may well at some point reach our  destination without realising it and continue on onto the other side. Perhaps that is where true learning and enlightenment exists?

Thanks for joining. I look forward to walking with you together.

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The survival of the fitness

I’m no station sergeant tapping away on a typewriter that not only makes enough noise to reverberate through the nick or heavy enough to require a solidly built oak desk as desks were the. built in those days. 

No, I am fast approaching 50 with 20 years in. Yes I joined relatively late but I was too busy enjoying my previous career to consider giving it all up in the early days. Just as well to be honest, as for me at least, had I not had that life changing, globe trotting experience I would not be the man I am today or indeed the police officer  I ultimately became to be. Everyone has the right time but the right time is not for everyone. 

So here I am on the raggity edge of modern policing. I’ve gone from teleprinters, as a probationer printing off the MSSL on desk duty at St Annes on a 9 – 7 day filing the reams of paper into a folder that nobody read to windows based technical and emotional support. 

Conversely I also remember kerbing the wheel of the local panda, having to circulate a message to MSSL with exotic destinations such as x63 , pnc and other numerical address’s that made no sense at all before having a meeting with the headmaster with no coffee provided! These days you have to write off a car before you are in the headmasters study.

So what is the point of all this? Well I am getting older and those that I work with are getting younger. Well obviously not physically but that is my point of view! And as I get older I wonder if my view point holds any sway. Indeed as I get older do I have any relevance not only only within society as a whole but more importantly for me, my colleagues that I work with. That is what worries me! Breaking it down to the baseline, am I viewed as an old fart that is past his sell by date and ergo knows nothing?

Well not yet! I work on the operations department, road policing to be exact and can still mix it up in pursuits and whilst not the very fitess on the department I can still sprint in full body armour. 

And younger officers still bend our traffic ears for advice, we like that. So what is my problem?

For me there are two problems. A generational gap between colleagues and also supervision and vice versa and secondly the dismantling of team and spirit as a result of technology where the office has been removed from the station, the only home that bobbies knew and replaced with tablets, refs in the car and log updates from their PDA’s. Isolated by Windows yet never having time to look out of them. 

Taking the generational gap first. Officers a generation apart sharing the same rank working together on modern teams. That can cause issues within the team. Not so much of an issue work wise for indeed younger officers will look to the older officers for advice, especially on the street where experience is king. But younger officers will head start generally on new policy and procedures and especially in the office leaving older officers feeling “out of it.” Both sides left feeling that the other is useful as an necessity. 

Then there are supervisors who are older with a young team and conversely a newly promoted supervisor with old sweats. These situations need to be managed with empathy from both sides.

The second problem is technology. Technology is great isn’t it? Uber fast and efficient. It is the way forward our human race will develop without a doubt. 

Now I am not going to go on about new systems that we cannot yet understand due to lack of experience. If you expect me to do so then you have missed the point. My point is that our office has become electronic and as such isolationist. Great that we spend more time on the street. 

But my worry is that we spend just as much office time whilst on the street and isolated from our colleagues; our only link between ourselves is a radio channel and an email address. Only seeing each other at the start and to a lesser the end of tour.

The future does not support well being. Unless those officers in the future areautomatons,  technology will always have to make allowance for emotion.

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The Police Unity Tour 2015

untiy tour tour

The Police Unity Tour. What a simple yet perfect way to describe this years cycle ride supporting the charity COPS. Police….yes; Unity….. most definitely; Tour…. as close to riding in a peloton as you will you get!

The Police Unity Tour UK has been going for several years now but it was only this year that I got to hear about it. As a keen armchair cyclist and always up for a challenge I would probably fail at the first hurdle. I thought where do I sign up? Talent vs expectation was never my strong point!

Thankfully, though late in the day I managed to secure a place. My heart was relieved but the “cold light of day” part of my brain reminded me that this was no walk over. In fact looking at the route and the time splits together with the fact that I had not done any training whatsoever made me quickly realise whether I would make it to the finish line at all!

I have known Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis for several years now. One of those friendships where you cant really put your finger on when we exactly became friends, but I remember both Irene and her husband were relatively new to cycling. As an ex club cyclist I gave advice. Both Irene and her husband have obvious talent. Whilst I remained sedentary, Irene and Mr Curtis clocked several thousand miles and got very fit indeed. In fact, in all likelihood it was Irene that got me hooked into this tour.

And so it was that Irene kindly arranged my travel down to New Scotland Yard. The day very quickly came and I took my bike and my backpack down to London, minus the cat and certainly not looking for streets paved with gold.

Version 2On the train down, I met two infectious ladies whose humour defied their age. Pat and Carol you are two beautiful women who on being nosey, managed to extract more information from me than a tier three interviewer. The end result though was not a charge but a crisp Scottish ten-pound note placed gently in my hand. “It’s a good thing you do Son” I will never forget that random act of kindness.

And so I landed at Euston, briefly two hours after leaving Lancashire. I wheeled my bike outside and exchanged my trainers for my cycling shoes. With my smart phone in hand I punched in the route to New Scotland Yard and began what I was to discover was the most dangerous part of the ride. Road closures, diversions meant I gingerly spent a lot of the short journey on the pavement. I got to Trafalgar Square and asked a Met cycle cop the quickest route to NSY. He then sent me on my way by saying “Don’t cycle on the pavement mate or you will get a ticket!” Smiling at the irony and yet suitable chastised I walked and cycled to the Yard.

Remarkably as if by magic I was met by Gavin (MPS) who directed me to the garage where I dropped my bike off. Not having time to book into the Union Jack Club before the safety briefing I stayed at NSY and made my way up to the briefing room. The room outside containing hand painted portraits of current and previous Commissioners. I sought out the painting of my old boss Sir Paul Stephenson which brought back memories of him pushing a shed of a vehicle in the pouring rain in Blackpool whilst I stayed behind in the section van providing safety cover. (Little did I know that I was born to be a traffic officer, even then!)

Soon we all convened into the briefing room for the safety brief and a short time later I met up with Irene. “Hello Ma’am” I said. She said there was no rank in here. That was to set the tone for the entire ride.

Briefing done I walked to my hotel ready for the start the next morning.

I will not bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the first days ride. But I will share with you the highlights. The first highlight was that it rained, boy did it rain! Nearly 87 miles of bloody rain. Assistant Commissioner Helen King attended the start of the ride at the police memorial on The Mall. There was a bag piper scoring the dark sky with his shrill melody. A short service ensued and AC king wished us well. A very nice touch, which was appreciated.

This Lancashire lad still hasn’t got over this! A police escort as we all cycled down The Mall under Marble Arch and past Buckingham Palace. How many people can say they were a part of that!

We continued out of London, which included several stops. A note to the organisers. It was bloody freezing when we had to stop, so if the weather is going to be the same next year, a nice big tea urn would be appreciated. Us Lancashire lads and lasses like a good strong cuppa!

We arrived at Milton Keynes Holiday Inn within half an hour of the scheduled arrival. A lovely hotel. Each room had a balcony that looked out into an atrium. It was easy to spot the unity riders as they had laid their wet cycling kit out on each balcony for all to see. Indeed, the clothing was that wet that the atrium developed its own weather system!

I was billeted with an officer called Gareth Thomas (MPS). Sharing the same surname he said that we could be brothers, and in a sense he was right. He was one of the ride marshals and obviously a very fit man. We shared our stories, talked about our wives and our children. A lovely bloke and that was the first time I felt the unity of the tour.

Version 2The following day, before the start I took my bike to the tour mechanics. I discovered that the rim on my rear wheel was starting to split from the inside out, it could go at any minute! I asked the mechanic to squirt some oil on the chain. I would deal with that problem when it happened.

We continued our ride to Hinckley in weather far better than the day before. En route we stopped at Towester. The Chief Constable of that force standing in the road clapping us in.  I have never seen anything like it. After a welcome food stop with cakes made by the staff at the nick which were truly marvellous we pressed on. That’s when things went wrong for me! Soon after Hinckley I blew up. My legs just wouldn’t do what I was telling them despite me telling them to shut up. I pulled up and got into the SAG wagon. I was distraught.

In the wagon were lovely support crew. Once of the ladies who was giving lots of encouragement throughout the tour I later learnt was a survivor herself.  Once again the power of the human spirit left me in complete and utter awe and admiration. I travelled in that van for about seven miles before getting out five miles before we were due to meet to survivors families for lunch.

Perhaps at my lowest ebb all that we were doing came to a sharp point of light.

As I got into the van there was a lady sat in her cycling kit. To me she looked distraught. Every time we passed the main group this wonderful lady buried her head in her hands. I felt a failure as we passed them and wondered if she felt the same. I do not know her name or rank. The SAG wagon stopped every so often to get video and photos of the group as they passed. Every time this lady hid her face. I knew how she felt. BUT, I could not bear to see this lady beat herself up even though I had similar feelings of guilt. I told her that she had ridden over a hundred miles, raised money for our brothers and sisters. She was not a failure but a hero. I knew every other rider on the tour would have said the same.

The final day saw the group being joined by riders from South Wales and Norfolk. A brisk 14 miler until we stopped just outside the police arboretum.

We formed up and rode in together. People clapping as motorcycles led us in. I looked to my right and saw my Chief. To the right of him I saw my police Inspector and her husband police Inspector. Genuinely pleased to see them, a grin grew on my face. The cold rain suddenly didn’t seem so cold.

We crammed into the marque as the rain beat down. As though those we were celebrating were crying. But not for their passing but for their love of those that they had left behind. It was a very moving ceremony. A son describing his loss of a father; a father describing his loss of a son.

And so after the ceremony I walked “The Beat.” A tree lined grassed mall dedicated to all police forces across the country. I passed the police officers of all ranks, dressed in their number one uniform forming the guard of honour. Flags flying, men and women stood to attention. I have never felt so proud to be a police officer.

I found my home force tree and the memorials to the officers fallen within my own force. All the hard work I had done and that of every other rider within the Tour hit me. I broke down next to that simple chestnut tree.

Version 2I stood freezing and a few minutes later I was joined by the wife of the officer I was riding for, a brother from my own unit. I said to her “ I have something for you.” I took the engraved blue band from my wrist and gave it to her. I gave her a big bear hug and broke down again. I don’t how long we stood there.

So what have I learnt from this truly unique experience?


I have ridden with Chief’s, Dep’s and every rank in between. I did not realise it at the time. I have made friends with brothers and sisters I didn’t know I had. That we are a family. That family extends not only to us serving officers but that of their families. Most importantly, the families of those bothers and sisters lost are our families and will ever remain so as long as we have breath in our lungs and love in our hearts.

And I have witnessed bravery by officers I have rode with, only matched by the bravery of those survivors who chose not to lie down but to get up after being knocked down.

Version 2Perhaps though my final words are for the ride marshals.  Working like trojans, leap frogging from junction to junction like SET motorcycle riders. Pushing weaker riders up those hills, giving encouragement to those that needed to hear it and stopping traffic, putting themselves at risk so we could ride through unhindered. Ladies and gentlemen I salute you.


See you in 2016.

Dave Thomas.

Posted in Family Liaison, Leadership, pursuits, Road Policing, Speeding, Well being | 1 Comment

WELLBEING: For every solution there’s a problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen I invite you to watch the following clip which is very funny and  acutely observed. The clip is courtesy of Monty Python.

So while that bizarre argument; or contradiction, is still fresh in our minds lets have a look at the difference between argument and contradiction

contradiction: noun

a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another.

a situation in which inconsistent elements are present.

the statement of a position opposite to one already made.

synonyms: denial, refutation, rebuttal, countering, counterstatement, opposite;

argument: noun

an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.
synonyms: quarrel, disagreement, squabble, fight, difference of opinion, dispute, wrangle, clash, altercation, feud, dissension, war of words, contretemps, exchange of views;

a reason or set of reasons given in support of an idea, action or theory.
synonyms: reasoning, line of reasoning, logic, case;

There is at the moment on Social media a pervasive air of negativity regarding austerity and in particular those cuts that are affecting the emergency services, most notably the Police Service. To challenge those views attracts some quite nasty attacks both in general terms and personal.  There are deep engrained views and a resistance to change. Now none of us like change.  It usually means that we have to give up something which makes our lives a little less comfortable usually. Why would we exchange better for worse?

Most of the time I suspect,  change is enforced on us; either through a political system that does not allow democracy or through necessity. One mans terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter as long as the ideal is true and does not change along the way.

Social media may or may not reflect the views of police officers across the country.  There are accusations that official police accounts are fluffy, corporate and allow no freedom of expression. At the other end of the scale are the anonymous police accounts that some spew constant negativity on an almost 24 hour basis.  I suspect the real story lies somewhere between the two.  So do these accounts reflect the views of serving officers across the country.  Of course they do, but are they vignettes of a far more general point of view?

Either way, there is a general aversion to change which I can only assume is prevalent in the police service of this country perhaps reflected in social media.

So what makes us resistant to change and in particular in the police service?  Some will take the view that is was way better back then.  This may be true to a point but we tend to remember the good times never the bad.  I once told my grandma that I would have loved to have lived in the forties; only for her to tell me the hardships her family had to endure during the war, literally living day to day waiting for the bombs to drop.

As I mentioned earlier, change usually means sacrifice.  None of use like that and whilst no man is meant to be an island, how quickly do we become one so when our own circumstances are threatened; adopting a “not on my doorstep attitude.”  It is understandable to point, as those of us with families have to put them first.

But there is another aversion to change and I call it their “comfort blanket.”  There are case’s in World War Two where prisoners of war have been released from captivity by their liberators only to remain in their cell.  Those four walls that had kept them incarcerated for all those years had become their sanctuary.  And so, we take up a position of opposition to the point where it becomes our guiding mantra.

Never seeing an alternative view, never been able to adapt to the ebb and flow of life in the present.  That old phrase “Living in the past.”  In fact, it becomes a purpose to complain about what ever, whether you agree or not. That is contradiction. The negativity of individuals is infectious and can affect the performance of others in both their work and home life.

Well, whether you agree with change, and through history I suspect no one ever has; it is here.  Whether you agree with it is academic.  The important thing is how we deal with change.  We can become bogged down with how unfair it is, why we shouldn’t change but that doesn’t change the fact that we are now in change.

And so I come back to the argument or contradiction depending on where you sit about change.  By all means argue why we should not change, it may get you no where or it may just get some concessions.  But to purely contradict is a lesson in futility. I’m not saying we should lie down and take it but to block purely because it is a contrary position regardless is like a snake eating its own tail.

I have also maintained the position regarding our police service is to let the good work that we do speak for itself. No one can take that away from us.  And if in the coming years we find ourselves struggling to complete the task that the public rightly expects we complete, then whilst it would be only be fair for us to inform them of our difficulties, it will be for them to decide change through the democratic process.

So if you you prefer contradiction to argument then the final paragraph may be for you.

A father left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. The Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given a 1/3rd. The youngest son should be given a 1/9th of the 17 camels. As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with each other.

So, the three sons decided to go to a wise man. The wise man listened patiently about the Will.

The wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.
Half of 18 = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 camels
1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 camels
1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 camels.

Now add this up: 9 plus 6 plus 2 is 17 and this leaves one camel, which the wise man took back.

Moral: The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the common ground, the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any !!

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WELLBEING: Umbrella’s


When the weather gets bad, most of us have an umbrella.  Usually it resides in the porch, on the back seat of the car or hanging up in the utility room with the rest of the damp clothing.

We use our umbrella’s when the weather gets bad. Heavy rain or snow.  Such a simple idea yet such a complicated design.  We instinctively put up our brollies when the heavens open above us to keep us dry.

But not all of us do that. Some of us walk around all day, with our umbrella’s open, held over head all day, every day. In the expectation that bad weather is about to fall.

That modern day umbrella is most probably very light. But your carrying it everyday. Its gonna get heavy at some point. So what is my point?

The very thing that is designed to keep you dry, can if you let it, weigh you down to sink.

I do of course refer to worry and stress. I have covered these topics previously but every now and again you get a blinding analogy that makes you want to share your thoughts.

The analogy tonight is the Umbrella. A device designed to keep you dry. But what if that device is trapping the weather, constantly keeping you wet and cold when outside their are blue skies?

You see, some of us place burdens upon ourselves when in reality where is no need to do so. Those moments peak when we change roles, go for promotion or placing ourselves outside our comfort zones. I have been very vocal in the wellbeing of police officers to my senior management team and they have in turn been very receptive.  My constant gripe is to see more white shirts on the front line ever so occasionally. A member of the SMT replied informing me that a few members of their team were equally feeling the stress to the point of failure.

Stress is not rank specific. To be honest that was something I had not thought about before.  And so, turning back to the thrust of this post, I thought about the two types of stress.  That which we have to deal with and that which we place upon ourselves.

The day to day stress that comes with the job I suspect is fairly easy to deal with.  The stress we put ourselves under is inevitably impossible to deal with. Because we ourselves become our own judges on our own performances and as you know, we will never satisfy ourselves.

Whatever rank you are, you are first and foremost a human being.  A humble foot soldier has every bit of authority and responsibility as the chief constable at a scene.

The ability to stop worrying is never from reading wise words but from the years and years of wondering what might be, only to discover that as you get older that those worries never came to fruition. What a release it would be to trust those older folk who told you not to worry in your younger years.

So what ever rank you are, put your umbrella down, stop worrying about what you cannot control, stop worrying about your future.  It will work itself out. When you close that umbrella you just might find a blue sky above. Unless you do, you will never see whats over your head.



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