25 July 2019
As the world watches Boris Johnson move into Number 10, he has reaffirmed his commitment, in his first speeches as Prime Minister, to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next three years. This is a positive sign and a commitment I will certainly be holding him to account for. Also, to ensure they are an additional 20,000 full-time, warranted police officers.
We know only too well that numbers do matter – with almost 22,000 fewer officers since 2010 to keep our communities safe, it is both difficult and frustrating for hard-working police officers to come to terms with not being able to deliver the same level of service they were once able to. Officers struggling, both personally and professionally, because of the cuts to policing. But the fact that they just get on with the job despite the challenges they face shows their sheer dedication – not to mention some of the immense acts of courage which we celebrated at the Police Bravery Awards just last week.
I was also heartened to hear Mr Johnson talk, during the leadership campaign, about the value of neighbourhood policing, as not only does this provide the visible reassurance that the public rightly expect, but it also deters crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as providing an invaluable source of information in the fight against crime and terror.
As we look to the future for policing, we have a new Prime Minister who has pledged to increase police officer numbers by 20,000; a new Chancellor who has talked of the same; and a new Home Secretary who said on LBC radio only weeks ago that we need to get police numbers back to where they once were.
Earlier this week we had the news of the 2.5% pay increase for police officers; still a long way to go to make up for years of real-terms pay cuts, but a small step in the right direction. Also, the announcement of a Police Covenant, which should improve the welfare support for officers. These both suggest a fresh and optimistic change of direction by government.
Moving forward, we will play our part to help make positive changes that support policing, police officers and the public we serve. It doesn’t mean we will always agree with government, and there is still much to be done to regain the trust and confidence of the service. But the noises coming from the new government do appear to signal a change for the better and that is to be welcomed.
In addition to recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers, government need to ensure the police service has increased funding through the Comprehensive Spending Review to be able to deal with new, as well as existing, challenges.
Policing deserves better; the public deserves better – now is the time to turn promising words in to positive actions.