This passed me by at the time but his recent comments set me wondering and indeed, the current Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Matt Baggott is a born again christian and chairman of the christian police officers association and vice president of the National Association of Police Chaplains, hmmm.
He has a fondness for the Old Testament and recently wrote an article for Britain’s Christian Police Association (CPA) urging officers to become followers of the Prophet Malachi so “our prayers, attitudes and actions will bring many to the reality and hope of the cross”.
He is president of the CPA, an evangelical Protestant group that believes “the Bible is the inspired Word of God without error and is the only complete authority on matters of faith and doctrine”. In public, however, he is more given to management speak than biblical quotations.
He was born in 1959 in an affluent Christian family and attended a public school in Croydon; Axcell thinks it was Trinity School, a Christian foundation with high academic standards.
Bernard Greaves, a gay-rights activist and member of Leicester Police Authority, is equally positive. “I have a good, effective relationship. He knows I am gay and there is never any problem,” he says. “The police have an excellent hate crimes unit which is very supportive of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community.”
Leicester is the most ethnically diverse city in the UK and is expected to have a non-white majority by 2011. Baggott and his force seem popular in all parts of the community. Hanif Aqbany, a Labour councillor, said: “We are delighted with the local police. They are approachable and accessible.”
He has been seen to be proactive in publicly apologising for racism, sexism & skiving when exposed by Dispatches. However-
He was staff officer to Sir Paul Condon, then the Met commissioner, for 18 months. As a chief superintendent, he was given the sensitive job of heading the team assisting the public inquiry into the force’s botched investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager stabbed to death in 1993.
The evidence against the Met was damning; it was found guilty of “institutional racism” and corruptly covering up mistakes. Baggott made one of his few PR mistakes when he said the fact that the killers shouted racist abuse did not prove the killing was racially motivated.
Although the gang that murdered Stephen is not disputed to have called out ‘What, what, n*gger?’, police claimed at various points during the inquiry that the attack on Stephen was not racist. CS Matt Baggott (who heads the police team at the inquiry) stated, contradicting police guidelines, ‘Words are not sufficient evidence of racial motivation.’
His reported charm and professionalism seem to have served him well and his affluent and christian background have cemented his establishment credentials rather than created an iconoclast. And after the mess of the Lawrence case he has at least known enough to at appear more concerned with ‘canteen culture’. Still, is having another religious person (and predictably of prostestant extraction) in the mix the wisest idea?