The murder of Police Sergeant Matiu Ratana in London last week was shocking and I hope the death of any police officer always will shock us. We have a still largely unarmed police service and I want us to keep things that way but that does mean we must recognise that our police men and women, like our other emergency services, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance and others are asked to move into danger and do move into danger to keep the public safe at a time when the rest of us are moving away from the source of that danger.
The hearings on the Manchester Arena bombings are a stark reminder of the human tragedy of those who died in that wicked terrorist attack, and of their loved ones but we also should be in awe of the bravery of those individuals who were prepared to put themselves at risk that night. Every year National Police Memorial Day is held to remember those police officers who fell in the line of duty over the previous twelve months. It is an ironic sadness that Sergeant Ratana’s death occurred so close to that day. We shall remember is an oft repeated phrase, but decent people do remember because we all lose in a tragedy like this. Our thoughts go out not just for Sergeant Ratana but to those who most closely grieve for him.
On a different note, Rochdale like other towns in the North has been incredibly patient as the Coronavirus numbers simply fail to come down. The failure of the Track and Trace system is a disgrace and Prime Minister Johnson has got to get a grip on this. Here in Rochdale the testing system closed down not because of lack of testing facilities but because the laboratory facilities had not seen investment keep pace. You couldn’t make this up.
Now we’ve got the new Track and Trace App up and running only to discover that a proportion of the population who are willing to use it, cannot download it to their mobile phones. Someone, somewhere is in charge of all this chaos and perhaps Prime Minister Johnson could start by suggesting that they are the first to go. We’re not the only country having problems but it’s hard to believe how many critical mistakes have been made by our “top” people. The health of families across Rochdale and across this country depends on getting this right and they must do better.
This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 3 October 2020.