Liverpool news Top police officer on how FTM slogan became source of pride PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Departing chief constable Andy Cooke reflects on his role targeting gangland and leading Merseyside Police through austerity and the coronavirus pandemic
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Merseyside's departing chief constable has told of his pride over a career that saw him tackle some of the region's most notorious gangsters. Andy Cooke fought crime on the streets of his home city across four decades as he progressed to become Liverpool's most senior police officer. Landmark moments included his role in the creation of Merseyside Police's gun and gang fighting Matrix unit. The success of that project became instantly recognisable as the slogan 'F*** the Matrix' was daubed in graffiti across the city. Mr Cooke revealed the sight of the phrase became a source of pride for his team as it highlighted the difference they were making. His legacy as chief constable extends beyond progress against the underworld, however, and includes the development of a more community-focused force despite the challenges of austerity and coronavirus. Mr Cooke said goodbye to Merseyside Police this week - 36 years after he joined its ranks. He leaves to take up a role inspecting police forces and fire services across the country, primarily in the north of England. Mr Cooke held every rank on Merseyside, where he spent his entire career with the exception of a four year stint as an assistant chief constable in Lancashire. He turned down an opportunity to move to the Metropolitan Police as he progressed to the top job at Canning Place, his route taking in a series of major roles. Outgoing Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke. Photo by Colin Lane (Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo) One of the most significant was his oversight of the launch of Matrix. The move represented a "watershed" moment for Merseyside Police's work against the region's underworld, he said. Such was its success the slogan "F*** the Matrix" became notorious across Liverpool, often daubed on walls and posted on social media by troublemakers left frustrated as the unit cracked down on their antics. He said: "One of the proudest moments was the fact that, for a time, 'FTM' was the number one hashtag on Merseyside because it showed we were getting the message home. "The fact it was plastered across walls across the county showed we were making a difference and that difference has continued. "It's something I'm really proud of. I'm proud of the fact that impact was there." Read More Related Articles History made as Merseyside Police set for first female chief constable Other notable roles included his part in a national overhaul of the witness protection service and his leadership of the investigation that saw John Haase busted for gun offences after he had been released from jail due to a Royal Pardon. Haase, one of the city's most notorious gangsters, had conned his way out of prison by tipping off the authorities about the location of gun caches. It was later revealed those hauls had been planted by his associates as part of a ruse designed to earn the trust of officials. Mr Cooke, born and bred in Liverpool, said his desire to remain in the city had never wavered in the face of the risks associated with taking on some of its most feared criminals. He said: "This is a city for everyone, in Liverpool and on Merseyside. "They shouldn't have to worry about where they live no matter what their occupation is. "I certainly don't worry about living in the city and being a chief constable or a police officer who dealt with organised crime. "At the end of the day if I show a reluctance to do that how can people feel safe in our communities?" Andy Cooke when he was Deputy Chief Constable for Merseyside Police. Asked how fighting crime in Liverpool had changed over the course of his career, Mr Cooke said: "Society is much more complex now. Crime is much more complex now. The city itself has changed for the better.
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. "There were probably 10 times more burglaries than there are now, car crime was through the roof, robbery was through the roof. People don't realise how much those sort of crimes have decreased over the years, and they have done so massively. "It was a difficult place to work, Liverpool and Merseyside as a whole. "It has changed totally now." When appointed chief constable Mr Cooke inherited a force devastated by austerity and facing millions of pounds of further cuts. He has had to navigate the world of politics during his time in the job - both hitting out at Government funding reductions and showing a willingness to deal with those in power to secure more resources. This was a tough but necessary part of his role, he said. Find out where you can receive your Covid-19 vaccine by typing your postcode below
While dealing with the impact of austerity measures had been his biggest challenge as chief constable, he added recent Government support meant force staff levels were set to rise above 4,000 for the first time in a decade. Merseyside Police is internationally respected for its work against organised crime and Mr Cooke leaves after a year in which the force has landed significant blows on gangland. In 2020 the region saw the fewest shootings in a calendar year this century, progress that is down to a number of factors beyond the coronavirus pandemic. They include the establishment of a dedicated firearms investigation unit within the force. Yet while the headlines of Mr Cooke's career and time as chief constable revolve around work against organised crime, he has placed significant emphasis on strengthening the force's ties with the communities its officers are tasked with protecting.
Police and crime commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke pictured with new recruits to Merseyside's Mini Police force
Examples include his support for the Mini Police programme that has sought to help school pupils better understand the role of officers and community cashback schemes that have seen more than £1m seized from criminals pumped back into the streets they operated in. Such grassroots policing has been instrumental to recent progress in Speke, which has gone more than three years without a shooting following a series of operations against gangs in the area.
Outgoing Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke outside Admiral Street police station. Photo taken by Colin Lane
(Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)
Beyond gangland and frontline successes, Mr Cooke will also be remembered as the chief constable amid the launch of one of the most high-profile operations in Merseyside Police's recent history, Operation Aloft. The probe saw the former Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson arrested on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation in December and remains ongoing. Mr Anderson, who has not been charged, denies wrongdoing. Mr Cooke will be replaced by Serena Kennedy, the first female chief constable in Merseyside Police history, and he has said he has "no doubt" she will be a success in the job. He explained his new role presented an opportunity to improve policing across the country and was therefore "too good an opportunity to miss". Asked what his departing message to the people of Merseyside would be, he said: "It would be a massive thank you for all your support, both to myself and Merseyside Police as a whole. "It's a great community to work in. It's a great region to be a chief constable in.
How the guns were silenced on a proud Liverpool estate
"I have had exceptional support throughout my time as chief. "Our communities have worked really hard together to make this a better region to live in despite the challenges we have faced. Over the last 12 months the vast majority of people have done absolutely the right thing, so it's a massive thank you - and please respect the police officers and police staff who are working on Merseyside because what you don't see, what doesn't get reported on, are the fantastic things they do on a daily basis to keep you safe. "They are exceptional at what they do and I couldn't be prouder to have led them."
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