Hindsight has been a lot in the news.
Many people have been accused of indulging in hindsight when they have been highly critical of Kensington and Chelsea Council in the wake of the Grenfell Flats fire. I have previously said that hatred and bitterness were inappropriate responses towards the prime minister, and I extend that comment to all those who have been getting the blame. We are all human. The word Murder was definitely wrong.
However, that does not mean that there is no place for criticism.
The defenders of the Council have claimed its critics have been using far too much hindsight. I agree that whenever anything goes wrong there are plenty of people ready to say “I told you so” and others who claim they would have dealt with the situation far better.
What do I think of Kensington and Chelsea Council?
I am very dissatisfied with their response to the criticism. Although we need to let the inquiry do its job and refrain from jumping to conclusions, there are some things we know already. We need not accept a lot of the excuses.
Why am I sure I am not just using hindsight?
Risk Management involves identifying risks and selecting measures to control them. There are requirements for big businesses and all the public sector to have risk management policies and procedures. There is also such a thing as emergency planning or business continuity. Some include that within risk management: others see it as a separate discipline. Whatever!
We know that there had been several warnings about various factors which contributed to the disaster. Yet, even if anyone can justify failing to act on them, there is the question of what happened afterwards.
Why did it seem that headless chickens were in charge?
When I worked for St Helens Council, my boss was the coordinator of emergency planning for the whole of Merseyside. He was often going to meetings with representatives of all the boroughs in the county and from the police, fire service, the NHS and parts of the private sector. They drew up plans for dealing with various kinds of emergencies. Several senior officers in each council had specific responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
Was there no similar thing in London? Was not a major fire one of the contingencies they would have considered?
What do I conclude?
Murder? No.Hindsight? No? Negligence? Yes.
What about us?
I hope none of us will wait for hindsight to be applied before we address the risks in and around our businesses, especially if they might affect other people. And if you are in local or central government…need I say more?