West Yorkshire Police are going to be very much under the spotlight in the forthcoming Batley and Spen by election. Not only is this probably the most contentious by election for many years, but it is in a very sensitive area which has a significant history. There is a very large field of candidates ranging from far left to far right. For Britain stands as a populist patriotic party unafraid to address the issues other candidates and parties will ignore.
West Yorkshire Police will face significant challenges in their conduct towards the various campaigns. You would expect that the police would be impartial and ensure a level playing field for all candidates, but my experience suggests this may not be the case.
For Britain has history with West Yorkshire Police. In 2017, before the party was even registered, I booked a venue in the West Yorkshire area for a fund-raising event that Anne Marie would have attended. The venue was subsequently advised by the police not to host us and rather more worrying, the date and area of the planned event was published on social media, not by us, and several left-wing groups searched for us on the day. Our original plans had not even been notified to members and were known only to the police, the venue, and less than five others. We subsequently held a successful fund raiser at another venue which we made sure the police didn’t know about.
At that time, I had been retired from the police for over ten years and naively, as it turned out thought I would be able to come to some long-term arrangement with West Yorkshire Police which was an area we saw that we would be regularly campaigning in. I approached West Yorkshire’s then Chief Constable and was referred to a specialist unit. From then on, I got the run around, they were most unhelpful and said they would only deal with us if we had a specific event planned. One Friday we booked an event in a public building and I told the police. On Monday morning the venue told us the police had advised them not to host us and they cancelled.
Against my nature, I made an official complaint about West Yorkshire Police. They denied telling the venue to cancel us and the complaint went nowhere. We have since had one similar incident and we have learned that the only way to hold events is to make sure the police know nothing about them. This is not ideal, and we would much rather cooperate with police forces when we want to hold events.
I have to acknowledge this experience is not confined to West Yorkshire. For Britain and indeed other organisations find the police put pressure on venues not to host events run by organisations they disagree with. They will threaten premises with closure or withdrawal of alcohol licences and in most cases premises capitulate. I believe there is a national policy amongst police forces to discourage venues from hosting organisations they disagree with. The irony is that if we described ourselves as a trans supporting LGBT etc group we would probably get extraordinary police support. Police forces take sides these days and it is totally incompatible with any concept of equality and one law for all.
So what is going to happen in Batley and Spen? The omens are not good, Kirklees council in which the constituency is situated is under the control of a particular faction. This makes it very difficult for the police to be independent. A close working relationship with local authorities is an essential part of policing these days and holding an impartial line could strain relationships where radicals hold sway. But that is what senior police mangers get paid for, impartiality is the priority and if that damages your relationships with the local authority then that’s still the right road to take. Kirklees has recently got into trouble for promoting men only vaccination centres, for imposing Halal food on non-Muslim pupils and for a housing consultation that only addressed so called BAME communities. All this in an area where a teacher was abandoned by his union and school over a free speech issue and West Yorkshire police did not disperse an intimidating mob.
This is the environment in which the election will be policed. Do you think it will be impartial?
Retired Deputy Chief Constable
Law and Order Spokesman
The For Britain Movement