Police Minister Claims Force Should Feel "Valued" After Officers Say They're "Sick Of Gimmicks"
“Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk." (Alamy)
Kit Malthouse has said the government is “trying to put everything we can” behind police in England and Wales despite the Police Federation slating new crime proposals as “gimmicks”.
As part of measures announced on Tuesday, dedicated named police officers are to be assigned to every neighbourhood in England and Wales and league tables will be published on the response times for each force’s 101 and 999 lines.
Boris Johnson said the plan would ensure “less crime, fewer victims and a safer society” as the country emerged from the pandemic.
But policing unions have said the plans are the “final straw” in a series of failures by the government to protect the country’s frontline officers.
It comes after the government announced a pay freeze last week for all officers earning more than £24,000.
Following the move, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) — which represents 133,000 officers across both nations — passed a symbolic vote of ‘no confidence’ in the home secretary Priti Patel.
But this morning the government's Policing Minsiter Kit Malthouse defending the proposals. "While obviously a decision was taken last week around pay which is tough, there are lots of other things about policing which have been good over the last couple of years," he told Sky News.
“We’re trying to put everything we can behind those police officers to make sure that they feel valued."
He continued: “It's been tough this year. I hope that we can return to some kind of normality in the future but our economy is in some difficulties. Obviously, the private sector has taken a big hit, and it's the private sector that pays for the public sector.
“We have to balance all those things and treasury ministers do that every day. I know these are difficult decisions.
“But we're focusing on crime, making sure that police officers feel supported and valued, and that there are lots more of them out there is a key part of our mission.”
John Apter, chief executive of PFEW, insisted their anger at the situation was “about much more than money”, and said that this latest announcement was “the final straw”.
“It is about the risks you [the government] asked us to take — which we did, because it is our duty — without proper PPE.
“It is about the endlessly changing and confusing Covid legislation which we were expected to police – which we did, because it is our duty.
“It is about your mixed messaging and lack of understanding of our role, which combined to put many of our members in invidious positions which led to them being abused and attacked.”
“It is about the failure, despite the promises of the Home Secretary, to take seriously our request that police officers should be given early priority for vaccination.
He added that the impression of many officers was that, when it came to the police force, “warm words flow easily, but the actions that show genuine support for the police do not”.
Apter continued: “Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of government contempt for police. It’s time for a total reset of police-government relations.”
Other measures announced by the government include the expansion of electronic monitoring for those convicted of burglary and plans to permanently relax conditions on the use of section 60 stop and search powers.
Ministers also plan to trial the use of alcohol tags — which detect alcohol in the sweat of offenders guilty of drink-fuelled crime — on prison leavers in Wales, where alcohol is considered a significant factor in violent crime.
The government will also invest £45 million in support services in schools in violence hotspots, and a further £17 million for Violence Reduction Units to provide high-intensity therapeutic and specialist support for young people.
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