Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Reader’s comment: It was May whodunit


In response to Robert James: Police cower from criminals. Burglaries are ignored. The Tories will pay for this betrayal, Malcolm wrote:

Much of the malaise in today’s policing can be directly traced back to Theresa May’s term as Home Secretary, although it started before that. Policing was never perfect – it is after all an activity carried out by human beings who are fallible – but police officers were in general motivated and did their best, often courageously, daily facing up to situations from which the rest of us would run a mile. A gradual decline in morale began when they came under attack from the very politicians who rely upon effective policing to keep order. Ken Clarke, when Home Secretary, instituted an enquiry into the structures and rewards of policing, chaired by his friend and fellow BAT director Patrick Sheehy; that caused some dismay but ultimately, after much unnecessary confusion and concern, came to nothing. Jacqui Smith, as Labour Home Secretary, denied them a pay rise to which they were entitled under a long-standing formula, and when eventually told by the courts that was illegal, refused to backdate it to when it had been due, in effect enforcing a pay cut. Jack Straw, presumably chasing electoral support from minority voters, set up the Macpherson enquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence a decade earlier as if the police had been the murderers. The eventual finding, by what many believe to have been a shambolic and prejudiced process, of ‘institutional racism’ by the police, without a shred of evidence being produced to justify that, had major ramifications for how the police then began to operate.

But it was May who as soon as she stepped into the Home Office launched a political onslaught against the police. She cut their pay, their pensions and their job security; she reduced their career prospects by introducing ill-judged ‘reforms’; she cut their numbers and claimed it wouldn’t affect crime rates; she politicised them with elected police and crime commissioners; she publicly harangued them at conferences; she tacitly accused them of racism in their use of stop and search; she appointed Tom Winsor, a man with absolutely no experience of policing, to the post of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, the most senior policing position in the country. Is it any surprise that morale has gone through the floor and that policing has suffered as a result? The surprise to me is that anyone still volunteers for the job at all. Blame the police for the state of crime today if you like, but for my money the real responsibility lies in Westminster and Whitehall. And the worst thing of all is that what we see today was both predictable and predicted but nobody wanted to listen.

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