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Some forces have 'abandoned impartiality' says Home Secretary

Public need to know the 'police are unequivocally on their side not pandering to politically correct preoccupations.'

Some forces have employed equality and diversity teams that have “completely abandoned impartiality” leading to a “corrosive” drop in public confidence in policing the Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said.

In a wide ranging speech made at the launch of a new organisation which says it wants to “reboot the relationship between the public and the police” the Home Secretary said that will require the public having  confidence that the “police are unequivocally on their side not pandering to politically correct preoccupations.”

“Everything our police officers do should be about fighting crime and catching criminals,” she said. “It means measuring police on outputs such as response times, crimes solved and criminals captured. It means police officer time freed up to deal with proper police work.”

Ms Braverman was speaking at the launch in Westminster today of the Public Safety Foundation which says it wants to help focus politicians, public institutions and wider society on fighting crime and disorder.

A founder of the organisation is Rory Geoghegan, a former officer who was Special Advisor on Justice and Home Affairs at Downing Street between 2020-22. Mr Geoghegan who joined the Met after graduating from Oxford and was described in the media as a “poster boy" for the force, left after five years later writing that he felt he was being prevented from fighting crime.   

In her speech the Home Secretary said changing culture also means that policing understands public expectations about what its “proper focus and function should be.”

She added: “For too long too many in authority had indulged a narrative that crime, rather than being a destructive option chosen by a criminal minority, is an illness to be treated. This narrative seeks to diminish individual responsibility and culpability by holding that the criminals themselves are victims”.

In order to maintain public confidence she said the police should be seen as politically impartial.

“When police officers stood by as a statue was torn down, when  police were pictured handing cups of tea to protestors engaged in blocking the road or when police chiefs spend taxpayers money on diversity training that promotes contested ideology such as critical race theory, the reputation of policing is damaged in the eyes of the public,” she told the audience.

She said some forces have equality teams that have “completely abandoned impartiality in favour of taking partisan positions sometimes even engaging in political argument on twitter.”

She said the type of policing she believes in “isn’t riven with political correctness” but grounded in common sense. There is a perception that some police are more interested in virtue signalling or protecting the interest of a minority engaged in criminality which she described as “utterly corrosive to public confidence.”

She said police leaders needed to be more sensitive to this danger and that if police chiefs promoted a culture of impartiality "with the same dedication that they approach diversity and inclusion” she had no doubt that confidence in policing will be improved.

She said 24 forces now have more officers than they have ever had due to Uplift recruitment financed by the Home Office but that the type of officers required should be both physically and mentally strong and they don't need a degree.

“Common sense policing means encouraging the recruitment of officers that come from and live in the communities they serve which is why I have widened the pool from which we recruit by enabling non degree holders to be part of policing," she told the launch. "It’s not about how many exams you sit it’s about problem solving, common sense and strength  - strength of character and strength of physique.”

She said forces also needed to focus on retention and it was vital that policing was able to offer “a pathway back” to those who do leave policing to ensure that experience "doesn’t leave the building."

“While many forces deploy re-joiner schemes at entry level I am not convinced that all forces are doing enough to encourage more senior people back into policing,” she added.

She said there was scope to expand these schemes to focus on core skills gaps using the standards and guidance provided by the College of Policing.

She said steps had already been taken to ensure that forces tackle weaknesses in their vetting systems. The Home Secretary is currently reviewing  the police dismissals process to speed up the “removal of those officers who fall short of the high standards expected of them." That review she added would “also simplify the process for dealing with poor performance and enable an officer who fails vetting checks to be removed.”

Ms Braverman said that the Home Office also had a part to play in ensuring officers could concentrate on fighting crime adding that it had recently reduced Home Office counting rules for recording crime from 350 pages to 50.  

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