Cool hand Hugh

What game is Hugh Orde playing, other than that of the cool statesmanlike top policeman who has got the best grip of any  police chief on the rioting since it went nationwide? One day, he’s popping up  on TV to tell us how he’s fixing the deployment of outside forces into London,  the next day he’s rejecting  media and politicians’ calls for plastic bullets ( baton rounds) and water cannon from Belfast to be used on English streets.  Careful to remind us he attends the Cobra meetings, he’s championing operational police independence at a time when it has come under question as never before.

Reports say Theresa May quashed David Cameron’s hankering to appoint a former NYand LA PD chief to head up the Met which has seen two commissioners toppled in two years – an idea Orde boldly described as “simply stupid.”

Once again he has shown himself  to be by far the most articulate policeman around at a time when several officers of chief constable rank are making lengthy statements to camera to defend their tactics. Hugh of course has the great advantage of not actually being in charge of a police force at the moment while still being able to command an enviable publicity platform as head of ACPO.  He has pointed out that baton rounds and water cannon are used to achieve distance between rioters and  the police. This a tactic that doesn’t apply to the hit and run behaviour of the young English rioters. However the door is not quite closed:  if rioters’ tactics change, so can the police’s.

What he can’t afford to say is that if the cops go in mobhanded they might create a whole new cycle of street violence. If rioting persists and political pressure further mounts, the fine line to tread on the streets and in the control rooms will come under further pressure. It’s worth keeping an eye on for tomorrow’s debate in the Commons recall.

Is Hugh speaking out because he’s got nothing to lose or is he making another bid for the top job?  He will know that  Cameron, May, Boris Johnson and co will be relying mainly on their political instincts to fill a vacancy  which has opened up for the third time in three years.  Their experience of and feel for street unrest is severely limited. Police leadership is therefore at a premium, more than ever.  This time a faltering commissioner could bring down those who appointed him or her.

I believe Hugh Orde has got the measure of the Met  and is more than an undoubtedly smooth talker. I wish him luck.




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  • Turgon

    Orde has not always been that careful or slick with his media profile

  • Old “news”, Turgon. I think Orde would make a good Commissioner of the Met. His replacement in N.I. doesn’t impress me so much.

  • Turgon

    Indeed old news but it shows a less than astute grasp of how one’s own conduct can produce banana skins; something those appointing the next Met commissioner might be wise to take into account.

    The suggestion (which I agree with) that Orde was less bad than Baggott is hardly an endorsement of Orde when one considers just how woeful Baggott is.

  • Well “Hugh” seems to be making a play for it.
    But the game that Hugh is playing seems to be one with High Standards but Double Standards.

    Stupid idea to import a Yank to be Commissioner of the Met but not all that stupid to import a Englishman to Norn Iron.
    I wish him well……….The Met could do much worse.
    Indeed they have done much worse.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Orde heads ACPO not ‘AGPO’. Although he scored less than other candidates in the PSNI CC competition he was given the job so who knows he may slip into the Met job.

    However I think not. He is a Met man through and through and given the performance of recent in-house Met officers getting the top job it is unlikely the Home Office will want another one – no matter how slick (or how brass necked at indulging in a seemingly never-ending job application).

    Orde’s arrogance is pure Met. As they say in UK police circles: you can always tell a Met man, but not much.

  • Turgon

    son of strongbow,
    Interesting comment. Maybe you cvan help answer this one as well. My impression is that the Association of Chief Police Officers is a non statutory body: I may be wrong on this. However, if I am correct is Orde still a serving police officer? If he is not (and I may be completely wrong on all this) why does he parade about television studios wearing a police officer’s uniform? Is not impersonating a police officer a criminal offence?

  • pippakin

    Orde appears to be the best of a poor bunch. He was passed over last time. I wish him luck.

  • Mac

    “Orde has not always been that careful or slick with his media profile”

    Yeah, like anyone on a MET Commissioner job interview board, or part of the wider English public opinion would give two shits if he attended an RUC memorial or not.

    His ‘media profile’, at least the one that matters, is currently the cop who policed the flag waving savages ‘over there’ and remains calm and measured whilst everyone else is running around like headless chickens trying to decide if tipping an Italian waitress or convening ‘COBRA’ meetings will play better with the opinion polls.

    No one of any importance cares if he jogged or sobbed that day.

  • sonofstrongbow


    ACPO as you indicate has no statutory power in itself. However it does have a role as a coordinating body for police policy in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own body ACPOS). This coordinating role is given by virtue of the Chief Constables participation in the body, in other words they empower ACPO to speak for them. They do so for reasons of ensuring a coordinated cross force boundaries police response throughout the UK, and being in the ‘club’ allows them to draw on ‘Mutual Aid’ in times of emergency, as at the present time.

    However no CC is bound by ACPO guidelines (and note the use of ‘guidelines’ as opposed to regulations). It is not a super UK police command and the President is most certainly not UK Police Commander – despite the impression Orde can sometimes give.

    The ACPO President is required to hold the rank of Chief Constable by virtue of the Police Reform Act (2002 I believe). So Sir Hugh remains a serving police officer.

  • Turgon

    Thanks for that. Pity I had hoped that apart from being overwhelmingly arrogant and conducting as you rightly point out a continuous on air job application he was also technically breaking the law. Clearly he was only doing the first two of the above three.

  • sonofstrongbow


    Indeed. If only he were as brilliant as he believes himself to be the future of the world would be secured.

    My interactions with him make up a few amusing footnotes in earlier chapters of my ongoing opus, the ‘narn I chin cuthalion’.


  • edgeoftheunion

    It did seem to me that the decision to publicise the 100 riot control police going from Manchester to London as brokered by the ACPO was a less than masterful PR stroke.

  • Hugh Orde praising the leadership of Teresa May might be giving Sycophancy a bad name……but it might just work for him.