‘I believe in blue’ – Andy Burnham

17 May 2016

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham addressed the Police Federation annual conference this afternoon, in full support for today’s British police service.

Quoting our new campaign to increase support for the police and strapline of the conference, Mr Burnham said: “When it comes to the police, I have no hesitation in saying that I do believe in blue. I believe in you and what you do.” He continued: “We are now in the sixth straight year of cuts to police budgets. These cuts come when the challenges of the job are greater than ever before and when the pressures on you are increasing all the time; at a time when crime is changing, becoming more sophisticated, and starting to rise again; when the terror threat is growing; and when the police are increasingly being left to pick up the pieces from cuts to other public services as the service of last resort.

“So your job is getting harder and, if this wasn't bad enough, there have been a steady stream of revelations about policing practice in the past.  But I have not come here today to point the finger. Things go wrong in all institutions and in all professions – as we MPs should have the humility to be the first to admit.”

However Mr Burnham also spoke of how the police service had to face up to its past.  He told delegates: “If we want a police service for this century, then we first need truth about how we were governed and policed in the last.” He said that Hillsborough had “shaken the faith” in policing and that it now had to become a watershed moment when “we come together to create a more open and accountable police service, that does not tolerate a closed-shop culture”. He also repeated his call for a public inquiry into Orgreave and the policing of the miners’ strike in 1984-85.

He spoke about the three elements of Labour’s policing policy review – funding and powers, structure and organisation, and culture and leadership. And when questioned, Mr Burnham gave support to the Federation’s call for the rollout of Taser saying he would “have that conversation” if he was Home Secretary.

Read Mr Burnham's speech in full