15 June 2018
Just over a month ago, I was pondering over what the new Home Secretary might say if he addressed the annual Police Federation conference.
Since he had only been in post for a little over three weeks, there was some uncertainty as to whether he would even attend conference and, if he did, would he hide behind his relatively short time in office to dodge questions from delegates.
Well, as pretty much everyone will be aware, he not only showed up at conference, but he was also pretty forthright in saying the police service needed Government support – both in terms of words and funding.
To me this was a tacit acknowledgement that the Police Federation had not been scaremongering or crying wolf when it said the cuts to policing budgets would have consequences. Those consequences have included not only rising crime levels but also chronic stress and indeed mental illness among officers. Neighbourhood policing has been hit hard and our ever-dwindling officer numbers have struggled to respond to a massive increase in demand.
To repeat another Police Federation mantra, enough is enough. Police officers cannot go on trying to do more with less and the public should not have to accept getting less of a service because there are fewer officers to go around.
If Sajid Javid’s words are to be believed, then he agrees too.
He definitely talked the talk at conference, both during his keynote speech and as he answered questions from delegates, but what we must now see is him walking the walk.
In my last blog, I said that we needed more than just words. I make no apology for making that same point again.
Mr Javid definitely came to conference as a breath of fresh air. He appeared to be listening, he appeared to get it, he appeared to want to help get the police service and police officers back on their feet. But the next spending review is still some way away so what is he going to do in the meantime?
It is interesting to see that he is contradicting one of his best-known predecessors – Theresa May – on some of her immigration policies and clearly, by admitting that the police service needs more funding, he is going against the former Home Office stance.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
But, policing is far too important an issue to use as a political football. So, let’s hope that he is genuinely prepared to get behind policing, to stand on the front-line with us, as it were, and help rebuild the service of which we are all so proud.