The late Michael Todd was awarded for his outstanding contribution as Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

Michael's career with the police service took him from Essex to London, where he was commended for his command of the policing of the May Day 2001 demonstrations, the Notting Hill Carnival and the Queen's Silver Jubilee. In 2001 he was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for his successes.

Michael moved to Greater Manchester Police in 2003 and was subsequently recognised by the Home Office for his continued revitalisation of the police force.


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


Response by Michael Todd

Vice-Chancellor, Dean, ladies and gentleman and most importantly graduates: thank you. I have to say that I am really pleased to be here. I know that people often say that at ceremonies, but I really am, and let me tell you why. I left school to join the police service with no thoughts whatsoever about ever going to university. I have to say that no-one in my family had ever gone to university; but I left school wanting to make a difference, and I joined the police service. I have to admit, like many 18 or 19 year olds I had no particular ambition for advancement, I just wanted to get out there and make a difference, and go and do things.

Thoughts of university were very far away. There was a defining moment for me very early on in my career, when I was about to become a detective sergeant. I went in for my annual appraisal, which was good, I am pleased to say. I saw a fairly crusty old superintendent, the sort of person you might see on ‘Frost’ or one of the other police programmes on television. He said to me” Toddy, you are doing really well, you are a great detective, you are going to be a detective sergeant, but of course you are never going to go anywhere in the police service.” And I have to say that it was a bit like a red rag to a bull with me. I said “Why, you have just said I have done really well, and I’m being promoted to detective sergeant?” and he said “Well, you haven’t got a degree, and you won’t go anywhere in the police service these days without a degree.” So of course that was a bit of a challenge, and I like taking on challenges. So I said “If that’s the case then I will go and get a degree”. So to cut a long story short, I ended up eventually here at Essex University, having done a little within the Open University.

What I would say, is that my time here at Essex made a real difference to me, both personally and professionally. I learned a lot of lessons and I have to say frankly, I do not think I would be where I am today if it were not for the University and what I actually took from my time here. One of the lessons I learned was about the importance of university education – and I certainly echo many of the comments made by the Vice Chancellor about funding and opportunity. I think it is very important indeed that opportunity is as broad as possible, and that the funding goes with that. I think it is essential for our society. It does allow people to expand and develop.

That brings me to another lesson I learned. I met a lot of mature students whilst here at the University, and looking around the room now, I can see there are a lot of mature students here today. This taught me something about not judging people too early, not judging people just by their O level and A level results and actually recognising that people develop at different times in their lives. For me that was a lesson in that which helps with the people I deal with now, the people I lead and am responsible for – in looking for people who have developed at different opportunities as people develop in terms of crime, because sometimes young people make mistakes and we shouldn’t actually judge them necessarily, and say that’s the end of their life, they are now criminals. We need sometimes to give people a second chance, both in education and also in life.

My time at University has given me skills and enhanced my ability to run a half billion pound organisation. The study of government and politics here, studying local, national and international government has been invaluable. People often say that you don’t actually use the skills and knowledge that you learn at University, its just great for expending the intellect. But I would say that in some of the discussions that I have internationally, representing the police service, even in Moscow, using some of the knowledge that I gained in the Department of Government was immensely valuable to me. At times even the study of Machiavelli has been quite useful!I think probably one of the most important lessons I took away, and I think it did develop whilst here, was actually learning to balance the state versus the individual. In some of the high profile demonstrations within London, trying to get the balance right was really important; trying to challenge colleagues to remember what the police service is actually here for. We are policing with the community and for the community, we are not policing the community. This is really important to me, and that we do continue the tradition of policing by consent.

In conclusion, as I go back to carry on fighting crime, protecting people and trying to make our communities as safe as possible, I thank you for the opportunities that University gave me. I thank you for this Award, it really is a great honour. And if I can just add that I really do wish all the graduates the best possible luck for the future and your future careers. It certainly made a difference to me, and I am sure it will to you.

Thank you so much.