Conference enjoys a lively Q&A with new Home Sec
23 May 2018
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and National Chair Calum Macleod
Thorny issues such as pay and resources, and whether he supports the wider roll out of Taser and spit and bite guards were also posed to Home Secretary Sajid Javid during a Q&A at our Annual Conference today.
North Wales Federation Rep, Mark Jones, told the Home Secretary how two of his officers were confronted by a man wielding a pick axe. He said: “Back up was miles away and the nearest Taser was 20 miles away. It was a miracle no-one was seriously injured. One of those officers happens to be my wife so this incident has hit home hard.”
The Home Secretary replied that he sees the government’s role as making sure that police officers have the tools and powers they need – including Taser.
Pressed on spit and bite guards by a questioner from Thames Valley Police, who said he was “fed up with police chiefs putting public perception ahead of officer safety”, Mr Javid stopped short of saying he would mandate force leaders, but he added: “I think 33 forces already have this and I think it is ridiculous that any chief constable would put public perception before protecting police officers.” He went a step further in response to a question from Metropolitan Police Chair, Ken Marsh, saying that not only would he “endorse” spit and bite guards, he would write to Met Commissioner personally.
On police numbers, the Home Secretary sought to assure the audience that staffing levels had stabilised since 2015 and would be increasing. Responding to a question from Hampshire Federation Chair, John Apter, who said his “colleagues are breaking” and “words are cheap” he agreed that more money was needed for policing and promised to make the case with the Treasury.
Mr Javid said: “You talked of 2010 there was a big budget problem for the government and if we had not dealt with it we would all be paying a price in less money for our public services. The budget deficit is down by 75% and economic prosperity helps to pay for our security – we should never forget that.” However, like Policing Minister Nick Hurd the previous day, he stopped short of offering a guarantee he would implement future recommendations from the pay review body.
Other questions focused on whether police officers should require a degree – Mr Javid insisted they should not – and whether he has any real power as key decisions have been devolved to Police and Crime Commissioners. He also promised he would get to the bottom of a missing £2 million for policing in Wales that various arms of government have been unable to account for, in response to a question from National Board member Sam Roberts.
A questioner who had been subjected to six year investigation by the predecessor to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) asked the Home Secretary to protect police officers by putting a time limit in place for misconduct investigations. Mr Javid said the appointment of a Director General at the police watchdog was a step forward and added: “In my view if anyone is waiting six years, four years or three years is huge problem – I absolutely agree there should be an independent body, but when it does investigate this should be done in the shortest time possible.”