Today is the first time for 30 years that I have woken up on a Monday morning as an ordinary civilian rather than a police officer. It is the first day of my new life as a Director of a Company called Arquebus Solutions which I have established with my former NABIS colleague Matt Lewis.
It is perhaps ironic that as I reach the milestone of completing 30 years police service and retire from my position as the Head of the UK National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) that gun crime is back at the top of the news agenda here in the United Kingdom.
The tragic events that occurred in Manchester on Tuesday 18th September resulting in two unarmed police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes losing their lives doing the job they loved has dominated the last two weeks of my police career. To see two young lives being lost so pointlessly has really made me realise why it is so important that the fight against gun crime remains a top priority, not just for law enforcement agencies, but for politicians and the communities they serve.
No matter where in the world it happens gun crime has a disproportionately negative effect upon all who are touched by it; be they the victims, the families of victims or members of the wider community whose quality of life has been diminished.
The bulk of my experience in tackling gun crime has been as a Detective investigating homicides and other serious crime in the UK, and latterly in being heavily involved in the establishment and operational launch of NABIS. I cannot begin to articulate what a steep learning curve the last six and a half years have been for me. I have grown to realise that the only way to effectively tackle the criminal use of firearms is to maximise every available piece of evidence and intelligence and to bring it all together so that we can see the ‘bigger picture’.
Previously we had tended to work in silos, whether they be functional, geographical or cultural. There was little structure in the way that we looked to understand how guns were entering the criminal marketplace, what type of weapons were available, how often the weapons were being used and whether the same guns were being used in different crimes.
NABIS now utilises the ballistic evidence found at crime scenes to provide fast time intelligence to investigators concerning links between incidents, but it is the strategic analysis that then takes place of all of the ballistic information, integrated with more conventional intelligence from the widest possible range of sources that allows the UK law enforcement community to have a unique perspective of gun crime nationally.
What has become clear is that the principles behind the success of NABIS can de adapted to suit any problem with gun crime irrespective of its nature, scale, complexity or geographical location.
That is why Matt and Myself decided to leave NABIS in order to share the knowledge and experience that we have gained in the UK with a much wider international audience and to build upon the work we have been involved in to date.
Policing is more than a job, it is a vocation. In a similar manner the motivation behind establishing Arquebus Solutions is a burning desire on the part of Matt and myself to continue to take the fight to those who fuel the market in illegal firearms. The Arquebus business has been developed to share best practice, to work with different Governments, NGO’s, law enforcement agencies and Countries across the globe to understand the unique problems presented by gun crime, and to ensure that the best tools, technology and strategies are available to those that really need them. In doing so our aim is to ensure that we can all understand the ‘bigger picture’ and how best use of that understanding can reduce the gun crime problems that effect communities across the world. In short, we want to make a real difference.
In future blogs I will look to examine in some detail some of the specific issues underpinning the criminal use of firearms, consider how a gun crime problem can manifest itself in our communities and update you on the work that we are doing as a new kid on the blocks in business terms.