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Home Secretary to back Fed call to end 'trial by media'

The Home Secretary has backed calls to end officers being subjected to ‘trial by media’. Priti Patel will tell the Federation’s annual conference “transparency is vital”.

Heavily edited viral videos are destroying policing by consent and officer morale, the Home Secretary is set to say.

Priti Patel will use her speech to the Police Federation’s annual conference to pledge an end to officers being bated by edited footage of their responses to an incident being shared on social media.

She will back the Fed’s demand for forces to be allowed to share their own clips from body-worn video that show the full circumstances of the incident.

Ms Patel will argue that “transparency is vital” to both policing and community relations.

During the past 12 months, there have been multiple incidents where social media clips have led to investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct which end with no action being taken against the officers involved.

The Fed says the issue is a form of bullying that impacts on the mental health of officers and have demanded chiefs take action.

Ms Patel will say to delegates: “I will not let the police be subjected to trial by social media.

“That’s why I backed the Federation’s call for forces to share body-worn video footage to counter highly selective, and misleading, video clips uploaded onto social media.”

The Home Secretary will warn the problem is having a wider impact by deterring victims of crime from reporting incidents as well as community relations.

She will say: “It is critical that we work as a system to ensure that we maintain public confidence in policing, which is vital for victim reporting, intelligence-led policing, and to maintain our treasured model of policing by consent.”

Her speech will be part of the Fed’s virtual annual conference which will highlight the impact of the lockdown on frontline officers.

The theme for the two-day event is Policing Under Pressure.

John Apter, Fed Chair, said: “The pandemic has affected everybody but certainly within policing it’s impact has been significant.

“The pressure on our colleagues has at times been intolerable and that’s why I think it’s really apt that the theme of the conference is Policing Under Pressure.”

Hosted between the Fed HQ and a broadcast suit in London, it will be a mix of live broadcasts and pre-recorded presentations from senior officers, politicians and officers from the frontline.

Among the contributors will be Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick,  policing minister Kit Malthouse, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor, National Police Chiefs’ Council Chairman Martin Hewitt and shadow policing minister Sarah Jones. 

Delegates will hoping to hear an update on arrangements for the Police Covenant which is part of the current policing bill. This is now at committee stage and is expected to gain Royal Assent in the New Year.

Regional Chairs will also be raising concerns over pay and pensions.

Gwent branch chair Steve Thorpe said: “As always, our annual conference promises to be an insightful, thought-provoking and lively event – it’s just this time it’s online.

“It feels like the last year has had a transformative effect on policing and there will be no shortage of discussion points over the two days.”

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