EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Police need support in order to ‘keep on keeping us safe’
Throughout the pandemic our police have often borne the brunt of the Government’s incoherent messaging.
Many of the rules they said we had to live by were not enforceable by law, so the police were regularly asked to deal with issues they had no powers to enforce.
Police officers also had no PPE and weren’t prioritised for vaccinations, but were subjected to being spat at by people claiming they had covid. They were expected to, and did, continue performing their duties in these challenging circumstances, day in, day out.
This week, the Police Federation took the unprecedented step of publicly declaring that it has no confidence in the Home Secretary. After all of her warm words about ‘having their backs’, when it came to doing something for them, as opposed to empty rhetoric, she failed them by freezing their pay.
The Prime Minister, who is responsible for a £1.6bn hole in police budgets, launched his ‘crime initiative’ this week. Part of this was a proposal to bring back ‘chain gangs’ and to have community offenders in high-vis vests, as well as introducing league tables on how quickly forces answer phone calls. He referred to the plans for a relaxation of ‘stop and search’ as a ‘loving’ thing to do, despite all evidence stating it is discriminatory and ineffective for preventing violent crime.
The initiative has unsurprisingly been derided by police chiefs across the country, who have also pointed out that this entire strategy was formulated without any consultation with frontline officers. It has been described as ‘gimmicky and weird’. It is a re-hash of existing policies and, worst of all, it won’t make any difference to safety on our streets or prevent offending.
The Prime Minster should know, after his much-mocked levelling up speech and pretending that he had a plan for social care, that empty soundbites and surrounding yourself with incompetent Ministers, is no way to run a country.
Our police are always there when we need them. They deserve a Home Secretary who wants to invest in them and support them to keep on keeping us safe.