Logistics is not a dirty word….

Police Logistics Planning

I am not a professional Logistician, but I run a support headquarters at the moment where I have 4 highly experienced senior logisticians working for me plus their staff.
Upon hearing today that the Met Police failed to arrange supporting logistics for their officers by means of water and food during the ‘Day of Rage’ demonstrations I asked these logisticians what they thought about that. I can’t print their replies.

Suffice to say a failure of this nature is an absolute failure of leadership. It is a leader’s responsibility to ensure that the welfare of their team is taken care of, irrespective of how big or small that team is.

I’d like to think that this is an isolated incident but sadly my own experiences in this area have been less than desirable. On one occasion as a junior cop I stood on a cordon of a large fire, smoke billowing over me for hours, no water, no relief, no comfort break and not one leader checking on me.

After this incident I took the time to review our major incident SOP and wasn’t surprised to discover that logistics and planning guidance played little part in the document.

More recently my cops had to look after a long term locus that was to run for some months under the direction of a major incident team. My fellow Sgts and I had to constantly lobby for the most basic of facilities to be provided for officers who were required to resource the locus to keep them safe, out of the elements and provide a measure of basic comfort and sustenance to officers there 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week in all weathers.

I’m sure all of you would have your own experiences of poor logistical support on a day to day basis, let alone for major events or incidents.

Frankly, we need to pay more attention to how we support policing operations. It starts with logistic planning considerations that should be understood and actively considered by our ops planning staff.

We also need to establish minimum support standards for operations and not deviate from those. Running police operations come at a cost and basic logistics support needs to be factored into those costs. A set scale of support that can be expected by officers based on incident size, duration and climatic conditions is the minimum we should expect. Officers should be assigned in the specific role of providing logistic support and supervision in operations orders. This should not be combined in the execution phase with the commander. A separate officer should retain logistics as their sole focus.

Built into this is the requirement to assign correct staffing levels to the incident. 10 points on a cordon does not make for 10 officers required. It makes for 10 officers plus a relief that can be rotated through those officers to allow for suitable breaks and shelter from the elements where required.

It’s not like it’s hard to find this stuff either. A simple google search on ‘tactical logistics’ will find you a myriad of staff estimates, principals and guides to use if you are logistically illiterate. There are examples across the piece at all levels of operation that can be reviewed for inspiration. Perhaps we should look to the Fire Service for ideas as they seem to do this a lot better than us at the moment.

I suspect however there is a lot of logistics guidance floating about policing organisations, it’s just not followed.

Police leaders and planners must engage with and understand logistic principles and ensure they are enshrined in our operational construct. They cannot be seen as an afterthought or paid lip-service as they too often are now. A detailed understanding is required in order to ensure operational success and critically, the health, safety and welfare of our officers.

Logistics is leader’s business.



Author: West Coast Response

I'm a Police Sergeant here on the West Coast of Scotland. I love the job and the folk that do it. I enjoy polite debate on policing and criminal justice and am particularly interested in the practical impact of policing policy, police leadership & making the job better for frontline officers.

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