Oration given on 3 April 2003 by Professor John Scott, Department of Sociology
Chancellor, the University of Essex Foundation has determined that Michael Todd shall be the recipient of the Alumnus of the Year Award for 2003.
For many years, the public perception of the relationship between Essex University and the police force was that we were – often literally – on opposite sides of the barricades. The 1960s and 1970s were a time of student turmoil in the university, and Essex seemed, in the popular imagination, to be identified with student protest.
The reality as more complex. The Essex Police Scheme had been set up early in the history of the University. Under this scheme, young police officers were given the opportunity by the Chief Constable of Essex to attend the University and to study for a degree in any subject of their choosing. The University has also been involved in the running of specialist degrees in Society, Law and Policing and Criminology. Most recently, it has hosted a series of University-Police forums on matters of the common concern.
The Essex Police Scheme produced a large number of people who have gone on to senior positions in the force. It has produced two Chief Constables – Peter Joslin, who became Chief Constable of Warwickshire, and now Michael Todd, who has had a spectacular career since his time at Essex University.
Michael Todd’s whole working career has been in the police force. He joined the Essex force in the early 1970s, working at Billericay, Thurrock and Chelmsford. During this time he was involved in all the major areas of police activity.
Beginning in the traffic division, he moved on to the CID and then to Headquarters responsibilities. At Headquarters he worked on the internal management and performance of the force and was heavily involved in crime policy and special operations. He was the first officer from Essex to take part in a management exercise with the Metropolitan Police. After 20 years in the Essex force he had risen to the rank of Chief Superintendent.
It was during this period in his career that he began his studies at Essex University. He spent three years full-time, working for a degree in Government – graduating in 1989 with First Class Honours. Inspired by this work, he spent a further four years part-time – combining studies with his police work – undertaking an M.Phil on the role of the Centre for Policy Studies in Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party.
Michael Todd completed his M.Phil in 1994 and the following year he was appointed to Nottinghamshire Police, with the rank of Assistant Chief Constable. At Nottinghamshire his responsibilities included what are, for many people, the central areas of police work – the investigation of major crimes and burglaries. As an Assistant Chief Constable his concerns were, of course, with the policy and strategic issues in this area, and he combined this with a comprehensive reorganisation of the Personnel and Training polices of the force and the development of an Information Technology strategy.
His time in Nottingham was fairly brief, as in 1998 he became a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and then Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police. His initial responsibilities were the policing of the north western boroughs of London, and in 200 he was given the oversight of standards, complaints and discipline across the whole force, his most visible achievement may have been his commendation by the Association of British Drivers for his decision to halt the spread of speed cameras across London.
It was just six months ago that Michael Todd was appointed Chief Constable of Greater Manchester – at the age of 45 he was one of the youngest people to hold such a senior post in a major force.
During his brief time at Manchester, he has already been faced with many serious issues. At the beginning of this year he launched a major anti-terrorist operation amid much concern over the possible use of Ricin poison and had to face the tragedy of the death of one of his Special Branch colleagues Detective Constable Steve Oake, who was stabbed in the course of the operation. Michael Todd’s speech at DC Oake’s funeral was widely recognised as showing the depth of his own attachment to the police and his long-standing concern for its collegiality and professionalism, He sees this as a central element in a force that must respond sensitively to the diverse and pluralistic society in which we live.
Chancellor, I present Michael Todd