John Sutherland

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Former Police Officer, Author of Blue: A Memoir – Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

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Synopsis

John rose to the rank of Chief Superintendant with the Metropolitan Police, and during the course of his career he witnessed the effects of the job on others and on himself. The trauma and pressures that come with the job drove John to a breakdown, an experience he unflinchingly recounts in his book Blue: A Memoir. He looks back on his experiences and the lessons it's taught him about mental health, culture, attitudes and society.

Biography

John Sutherland is a former police officer and the bestselling author of Blue: A Memoir – Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces. His book recounts over two decades on the front line; what it means to be a police officer in Britain today, the trauma every officer frequently experiences, and how it consequently led to a breakdown in his own mental health.

John joined the Metropolitan Police in 1992, working in seven London boroughs and rising through the ranks to become Chief Superintendent. During his time he also became a member of the Met’s national and international Hostage Negotiator unit. After spending over two decades on the frontline and enduring exposure to incredibly traumatic events, John suffered a breakdown, battling depression and taking a seven-month leave from the service. His experience led him to write his book Blue: A Memoir, which aims to open up the conversation on mental health and offer a personal account of his experiences.

In speeches, John examines the realities of and attitudes towards mental health, drawing parallels between his policing experience and what anyone might come across – the pressures and harshness of the physical world, expectations sustained by the media, and the shame that it cultivates. He also discusses the politics of modern policing, and how to deal with a system that is both slow to change and lacks the resources to keep pace with the demands of an impatient society. He also looks at the future of the police – how it needs to keep pace with the times, how crime is becoming more cyber-focused, and how long-term results becomes a question of fostering the right culture in communities.

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