A senior Northamptonshire police officer has just returned from Iraq, having spent the last year offering international policing support to the war torn country.
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Blatchly spent 2014 as the Senior Police Adviser with the United Nations, sharing his vast knowledge and experience of UK policing, to the Iraqi forces.
Working within a challenging and hostile environment, Simon provided police support at a ministerial level, to assist in the management of Iraqi elections.
He also provided advice on ways to support the Iraqi government on security, capacity building and strengthening the police system.
Speaking about his experience, Simon said: “Policing no longer operates in clearly defined borders. Whether policing in the UK or overseas the impact of organised crime, terrorism, etc is universal.
“The UK has a reputation of delivering excellence and advanced policing practices. Police deployments with the UN, abroad, help to provide opportunities for us to share our expertise and help stabilise a country, which in turn can help to support UK national security.
“I can only describe working in Iraq as policing with a very different sort of pressure. It has really bolstered my professional skills and competencies. The level of negotiating, high pressure policing, understanding new and complex problems in a completely different environment and cultural awareness, means I can now bring back an exceptional skill set to policing in the UK and to Northamptonshire.”
While in Iraq, Simon carried out prison visits, meeting some of Saddam Hussein’s ex cabinet, and morbidly the gallows where Saddam was hanged.
Officer safety took a new meaning when he was evacuated from Bagdad after ISIS was believed to be close.
He also worked on the humanitarian side, supporting interviews and looking into human rights violations. In October he focused on working on the Iraqi National Guard concept and resurrecting some international rule of law initiatives as the international community and funding started returning to Baghdad.
Assistant Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet, said: “Whilst opportunities like this are rare, they do provide officers with a unique chance to develop new skills in a completely different environment.
“When Simon returns to the force, he will bring with him experience that will offer Northamptonshire Police new insights in keeping our County safe.”
Simon will now take up the role of Chief of Mission Management with the UN, being placed in the department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York.
Amongst other things, whilst in the Big Apple, he will be responsible for preparing plans for new and existing operations, providing guidance on institutional development and ensuring continuous liaison with field missions.