Derbyshire Police Federation

Officers urged to ‘stand tall’ and defend themselves

11 November 2022

Police officers should “stand tall” and defend themselves against accusations of being woke, according to National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chair Martin Hewitt.

Speaking at the NPCC’s joint annual conference with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), Mr Hewitt said officers should defend their actions if they are effective in building public confidence.

He said: “Where we struggle to explain action we are taking or where it is not having a positive impact, we need to reconsider it.

“But if we are accused of being woke when taking action that we know is effective in building trust with people where that increased trust is needed, we must stand tall, champion and defend that action.”

Mr Hewitt’s comments were seen as a response to media criticism, most recently of the policing of the Just Stop Oil protests, and to remarks made by Home Secretary Suella Braverman who claimed there was a perception that officers spent too much time on symbolic gestures and initiatives on diversity and inclusion.

He said diversity and inclusion played an important part in crime-fighting and keeping the public safe and should not be dismissed as a diversion

Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said that such criticisms were meaningless.

He said: “Police officers get called lots of things and I think being ‘woke’ or ‘politically correct’ are probably among the more polite terms used against us.

“I think it has become a buzzword that a lot of people like to use but few actually know what it means.  

“Our members do a difficult job but always try to treat people with respect, show them kindness and maintain the highest ethical standards while doing so - it’s all in the oath they swear when they become police officers.

“If someone suggests that makes them woke then so be it but times and attitudes change along with the communities we serve and a failure to recognise that would leave us open to yet more criticism.”

APCC chair Marc Jones said he did not think the term woke was helpful.

He said: “The term woke means different things to different people. And whenever you get a term that can be adapted in that way, it’s unhelpful.

“Because when somebody says a word meaning a particular thing, and other people hear what they want to hear, that’s always going to be challenging.”



March 2023