A senior police chief has responded to government “whims” and criticized the Home Secretary’s fight against political activism in policing.
Paul Fotheringham, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, used his annual conference speech to hit back at Suella Braverman’s crusade.
He was also fiercely critical of the impact of austerity, saying public services were “fighting for the title of ‘most underfunded'”.
Speaking to delegates on Tuesday morning, Mr Fotheringham said: “Our service follows the whims of others and is often directed by government. “We must cut services as our funding is cut; We change our focus when a new priority is prescribed.
“We can’t speed up charging decisions we don’t like and we can’t just turn off the phones.
“Overcoming our challenges is not possible without government support.
“However, every person in this room could see where important national decisions were being made, perhaps without full engagement with the service, and which had a negative impact on our effectiveness.”
He pointed to 20,000 officer job cuts as a result of austerity measures from 2010 and told the audience that 21 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales still have fewer officers today than they did then – despite a national recruitment program designed to replace them in recent years .
Mr Fotheringham also questioned the “arbitrary” requirement for officers to be present at every home break-in – and hit back when Ms Braverman ordered a review of what she sees as political activism in policing.
“The Home Secretary recently wrote to all police chiefs to question some of the work being done in this area under the pretext of political impartiality,” he said.
“She gave examples of police activities which she believed had resulted in damage to public trust by supposedly apolitical police forces siding with one group over another.
“She refers to ‘dancing and fraternizing with political protesters,’ which we believe is related to the police presence at Pride. She talks about flying the flag of progress and wearing badges.
“These are deeply personal and passionate matters for our employees and our communities.
“What I have actually seen are many examples of effective community engagement and a desire to promote and embrace inclusion in all its forms.
“Trust starts with how we treat our employees. If they can’t be their true selves at work, how can we expect them to police our communities in the best way possible?
“The language used here is important.
“If the government uses language in this way to position policing as political rather than inclusive, are we opening the door to rhetoric of discrimination against the most vulnerable in our communities?”
There are 43 regional police forces in England and Wales, which delegates said represented an outdated structure.
“We are operating within an outdated framework that is so structurally rigid that positive change is likely to be years away, and it undermines our ability to deliver the best for our communities,” Mr Fotheringham said.
“Crime does not know or respect the boundaries we have set by geographical boundaries and the power invested in individual police chiefs understandably goes hand in hand with local priorities that are often at odds with what a national service should be the best is.”
I think we can do everything we can to encourage more experienced officers, particularly those with 30 years of service, to stay in the service a little longer, even a few years, two or three years, just to pass on their experience to officers to pass on The next generation is useful
“Surround this 50-year-old structure of a criminal justice service that is in danger of collapse due to a chronic lack of resources and we can understand why the public so often thinks only the worst about the police and justice system,” that is there, um to serve them.
“The system goes on and on and public services fight for the title of ‘most underfunded’ in their cries for help.
“Everyone will quickly pass on their demand to someone else, intentionally or unintentionally, if there is someone else to accept it. Of course, that’s so often the police.”
There are nationwide plans to reduce the number of mental health calls attended by police officers. From November 1, Britain’s largest police force, the Metropolitan Police, will prevent officers from taking part in operations unless their lives are in danger.
Police Minister Chris Philp urged experienced police officers nearing retirement age to work longer hours as he said he was “very conscious” that “a very high proportion of officers are relatively new” following the Government’s recruitment drive , namely a third of civil servants with less than three and a half years of professional experience.
“I’m very aware of the importance of training them properly… so I think we can do everything we can to encourage more experienced officers, particularly those with 30 years of service, to stay in the service a little longer, even a few.” “It is useful to pass on their experience to the next generation.”
He was also questioned by anchor and TV presenter Sameena Ali-Khan for not personally attending the conference and the Home Minister not being present.
Addressing delegates via livestream from the Home Office in London, Mr Philp said he was “extremely sorry” that he could not attend as he had been called into a meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street, which prevented him from to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon in the West Midlands and promised to go there next year instead.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/suella-braverman-government-chris-philp-home-secretary-metropolitan-police-b1106397.html Police chief uses conference speech to denounce government interference