Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Bernard Hogan-Howe for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University. 

Bernard was the Chief Constable of Merseyside Police from 2004 to 2009 and was responsible for implementing the Force's highly successful Total Policing Strategy. 

In 2009, he was appointed to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary which involves him in inspecting police forces and authorities of England and Wales and implementing Government reforms. 

During his time in Liverpool, he quickly earned respect for the way he transformed the police service into an efficient and more focused crime-fighting force. He displayed a no-nonsense approach and became known as someone who didn't easily take "it can't be done" as an answer.  

Bernard Hogan-Howe was born in Sheffield in 1951. After A-levels, he left Hinde House Comprehensive School and after four years working in the health service as a lab assistant, he joined South Yorkshire Police. There they soon recognised his potential and sent him to Oxford to study law. Subsequently, he obtained a Diploma in Applied Criminology and then an MBA from the University of Sheffield. He worked across the South Yorkshire area in uniform, CID, traffic and personnel, becoming District Commander in the Doncaster area. 

In 1997, he joined Merseyside Police as Assistant Chief Constable Community Affairs before taking responsibility for Area Operations in 1999. He was lead officer for Maritime and Air Support policing, and Gold Commander for the Grand National, the Millennium celebrations and the Open Golf Tournament.  

In 2001, Bernard joined the Metropolitan Police Service as Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for Human Resources. During this time, he led a team which recruited thousands of additional front-line officers, 15% of whom were from the minority communities of London. His extensive experience in crime investigation and strategic leadership of major public events, public disorder and organised crime, particularly involving the use of firearms, equipped him well for his return to Merseyside in 2004 as Chief Constable.  

His exceptional leadership produced a highly motivated and professional force which inspired confidence in the local communities it served. He was an advocate of zero tolerance, dismissive of the idea of merely cautioning people caught with a knife. 

He argued that families that shield gun criminals from the police should be evicted from their homes, and declared that "society needs to make it clear that it will not tolerate the thugs who are living life by the law of the gun." This approach struck a chord with a public increasingly alarmed by violent crime. His mission as Chief Constable was to make the force the best in the UK. 

Borrowing from Johann Cruyff's concept of Total Football, Bernard introduced the Force's Total Policing Strategy, leading his staff in a Total War on Crime and Total Care for Victims.  

There are many examples of the success of his policies: 

  • Crime was reduced by a third, with 53,000 less victims  
  • There was a 26% reduction in anti-social behaviour during his tenure  
  • Merseyside Police had the highest criminal asset recovery outside of London, in three years seizing over £20 million in confiscations and forfeiture  
  • His Matrix Unit was the first dedicated gun crime unit in the UK and has been responsible for criminal sentences totalling over 600 years 
  • He championed developments in technology: for example, widespread use of automatic number plate recognition and the force's vehicle fleet being equipped with mobile data allowing officers more information on the streets  
  • 33,000 uninsured vehicles were seized in three years 
  • There was a 7% decrease in people being killed or seriously injured on the roads 
  • There was also a focus on crime prevention, with the Force actively engaging with thousands of young people to divert them from crime and anti-social behaviour

In a drive against anti-social behaviour, 46 pubs and clubs were closed in the city centre in two years and he called for a ban on some strong alcoholic drinks. 

And perhaps Bernard's finest hour came with the conviction of the killer of 11 year-old Rhys Jones, a conviction based on evidence gathered in a painstaking and ingenious police investigation.  

Bernard Hogan Howe's leadership style was not only evident within the police force. He is a very effective communicator and skilfully used the media to get his message across to the wider community. He is a great networker, never forgetting a face and a name. He became a Board Member of The Mersey Partnership and also the Liverpool Culture Company. He backed local charities, for example becoming chairman of the James Bulger House Appeal. 

And he also led by example, on one occasion arresting a man after chasing him on foot – not normally what you'd expect of a chief constable. He also raised his public profile by being the first chief constable to lead a Grand National winner on his police horse, on route to the Winner's Enclosure at Aintree. In reference to this, at his well-attended farewell party last year, one senior colleague recalled that the Chief Constable had attended three out of five Grand Nationals and had come first in all three of them.

And earlier this year, Bernard came back to Liverpool to deliver an excellent talk on 'The Challenges of Policing Modern Britain' as part of LJMU's Roscoe Lecture Series

Bernard Hogan Howe's distinguished leadership has been widely recognised, for instance, he is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute and has been awarded the Queen's Police Medal. 

He has been a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers' Cabinet and a member of the Board of the Central Police Training and Development Authority (Centrex).

Away from work, he enjoys attending opera and the theatre. And he also enjoys football, despite being a Sheffield Wednesday supporter. 

Local journalist Chris Johnson observed last year, "Bernard Hogan-Howe deserves the gratitude of the whole county for the expertise and devotion to duty that he showed during his tenure at Canning Place." 

We echo this sentiment and are proud to honour Bernard Hogan-Howe today. 

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Bernard Hogan-Howe, this most distinguished former servant of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.