27th November 2019
Policing issues are of some relevance in this election, now only two weeks away. Parties are making commitments which they may or may not keep, but the trend is generally in the right direction. As we all know, police numbers have been cut drastically since 2010, at the instigation of the worst Home Secretary and Prime Minister in the last 100 years. Those who know me will be aware that I believe the Tory party set out to destroy the police service in revenge for being thwarted in their attempts to control it for their own ends, and I speak with some personal experience.
The Conservatives have now committed to an extra 20,000 officers, perhaps by 2022. In practice, to achieve this they would need to recruit about 54,000 officers in that period to replace retirements and wastage. The police consensus is that they do not have the capacity to train that many. And in case you thought they would be uniform officers on the beat….no! Some are going to the National Crime Agency, controlled by the Home secretary and others to specialist units. (There is another story to be told there, but for another time).
Many of Theresa May’s disastrous changes are now likely to be reversed, such as impeding Stop and Search, the curtailing of which is partly responsible in the spiralling level of knife crime. They are also going to look again at the bail system. Theresa May changed the nature of Police bail and limited it to 28 days. In practice many investigations take longer than this, so many offenders were “Released Under Investigation” (RUI). In practice, not on bail or subject to any restrictions at all, and as a consequence, some serious offenders involved in offences against children and murder fled to the Indian sub- continent.
The reversal of May’s damage is being led by Priti Patel who has all the hallmarks of being a pretty good Home Secretary (presuming she is re-appointed) and recovering the trust of the police service. However, she is not an entirely free agent and I think she is constrained by cabinet collective responsibility. I expect Boris to win the election, but the Tory party hierarchy is full of barely disguised socialists who would be more at home in Tony Blairs Labour party.
There are many issues that are being ignored in this election. All parties are paying some lip service to policing, but the hard issues are ignored.
There is no one looking to re-establish the Forensic Science Service, no one looking to get rid of the ridiculous concept of hate crime, No one looking at the way the Criminal Justice system now favours minority groups over the indigenous population, no one looking to stop the political control of police forces through Police and Crime Commissioners and the Government Inspectorate.
No one is trying either to make sure the Crown Prosecution Service (known in the police as the Criminal Protection Service) becomes something other than an agent for implementing central government diktats. (If you want to understand the culture of the CPS, remember they were once led by Kier Starmer, Labours Brexit spokesman). No one is looking at the inequal application of the law across different communities. No one is proposing making policing more accountable locally, indeed there are even pushes for further centralisation.
This election is significant for the policing and criminal justice issues that are being ignored. It is said more often now, but we really do need to change politics for good. Our politics is broken and not fit for purpose.