New Government must step up to gain trust
Friday, 09 June 2017
Police Federation Vice-Chair Calum Macleod on the priorities post-Election.
Policing has not, and never will, escape change and nor should it. Changing crime needs a changing approach.
But change can go too far and it takes the bigger person to pause, reflect and admit this. But admission is the first step to remedy, no matter how bitter that pill is to swallow. We’re not at that point in policing, we’re way beyond it.
Now is the time for the Prime Minister to take that first step, as today, after a disastrous night at the polls, she announced she is to lead a minority Conservative Government, possibly supported by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
She can start by properly investing in our police service.
Safety and security has been brought to centre stage in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. It should not take the loss of 35 innocent lives to reach the point where it’s clear to see that “enough is enough”.
Numbers do matter. They also don’t lie. The loss of 21,500 officers since 2009, including 1,260 firearms officers and more than 3,250 neighbourhood officers in a single 12-month period really do matter. Yes, new ways of working, new technology and new investment in certain areas of policing help plug the gap but this is simply a sticking plaster, one that’s quickly coming undone.
These dwindling numbers will affect different forces, with differing demands, in different ways. The post code lottery spoken about in health and education is one we’re fast seeing develop in policing. We have all seen and heard how officers will not hesitate; will not flinch when running towards danger, but their ability to do so in every pocket of England and Wales is hampered by the number that exist to do the job.
The protection of its citizens always has been and always will be the primary responsibility of any government. Today, Theresa May has again been charged with that task. She pledged that her new Government will work to keep the nation safe and secure.
We are already meeting with the Home Office to discuss the immediate need of additional funding to help officers do their job and to make clear the need for a plan that goes beyond their term in office.
There is no quick fix but there are quick actions that can be taken to help better protect the public and the police. Our members and the public support the wider rollout of protective equipment including Body Worn Video (BWV) and Taser. The desire and new equipment is there but forces need the financial support to use it.
Further supporting unarmed officers with increased availability of specialist firearms teams is also crucial and the work to increase their numbers in recent years must continue in order to return us to the levels of the past.
Times are changing and the topic of firearms will continue being debated. The public must be part of that debate so we know what they want from their police service.
We are not naïve enough to think equipment alone will stop the likes of the attacks seen in London and Manchester, but it will help officers keep both the public and themselves safe.
What is not up for debate is the need for investment in community policing; communities where the information exists to stop these mindless attacks. This cannot continue to be jeopardised.
The evidence is there for everyone to see. It’s time to act on it and for Mrs May to put her money where her mouth is.