Dear Home Secretary,
In a short while you will be addressing the Police Federation conference; an event which, after last year, will be followed with great interest by the entire British police service. You will, at some stage praise the work of the rapidly diminishing number of officers and perhaps, as you have so often done in the past, link that faint praise with your oft repeated assertion that crime is down.
Every officer will, however, remember your 'brave' speech last year when you listed just about every police transgression over previous decades including one that occurred before some serving officers were even born. You included amongst the transgressions, 'fiddling' crime figures yet minutes later included reduced crime figures as one of your achievements.
Officers hope that your speech will be rather more conciliatory on this occasion and perhaps you might even address the question of low police morale. You remember this subject Home Secretary for when you appeared on the pre-election BBC News Channel programme with the other party home affairs spokespersons, Andrew Neil put this issue to you on three occasions and each time you failed to answer.
You may of course dispute there is a police morale problem but independent surveys together with those of individual police forces show that this is a major issue. Even the Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackay, admitted morale is, and I quote, 'not good.' We await your proposals to boost morale with interest.
Crime figures are a bone of contention and it may well be that certain categories of crime are reducing thanks in part to 'target hardening' and indeed the efforts of police. Yet those specialist units such as burglary, robbery and gang squads that helped bring about the reductions to which you so frequently refer, are now being disbanded due to the cutbacks that you are imposing.
You will have already been told by your officials that crime is beginning to rise again and you must be aware that much crime, including shoplifting, sexual offences, youth crime and the forthcoming tsunami of cyber crime, is grossly underreported.
Yet of course with the closure of each police station and the disappearance of safer neighbourhood teams, you are divorcing police from the community it serves. Crucially police withdrawal from communities is having a huge impact on the gathering of intelligence so vital in the battle against terrorism.
Cynics may say that that this withdrawal of police from communities is somehow linked to resentment amongst those in government in that approval ratings for those such as yourself are in the abject teens: Despite the constant denigration from politicians and the media however, police approval ratings remain constant at around 66%.
Part of this constant denigration has been your persistent flagellation of police in respect of stop and search. I wonder, Home Secretary, if anyone has ever suggested to you that the motivation of police in conducting stop and search isn't to racially harass black youths but actually to keep them safe in areas of social deprivation where there is poor schooling, inferior housing, a lack of job opportunities and consequently high crime. All of these, of course, are the fault of successive inept governments not the police.
During the home affairs debate with Andrew Neil you brazenly stated that front line policing has been "protected" which led officers to question whether you were deliberately misleading the public or had no idea of exactly what constitutes front line policing. Police dogs, horses have been drastically cut, helicopter coverage reduced while proposed future cuts will leave large swathes of the UK without crucial helicopter cover to the detriment of the 'protected' front line.
The tragic death of off duty PC Neil Doyle, allegedly because he was assaulted after being recognised as a police officer, drew not one public expression of regret from yourself. The unexpected death of community officer PC Andy Hocking attracted a 6,000 strong memorial walk in Falmouth such was the esteem in which he was held but again silence. How sad is it Home Secretary that his exemplary style of community policing is heading for oblivion as you impose further cuts?
To add insult to injury, Prime Minister David Cameron's failure to observe the tradition of thanking police in his Witney post election speech was noted as was his failure to thank officers who protected his Downing Street home from violent activists just two days after the election.
Inexplicably, as the trickle of British jihadists leaving the UK became a flood, you failed to provide additional police or border force resources to strengthen virtually non-existent departure controls. What excuse could there be for not funding the deployment of UK police officers to Turkish airports to assist the Turkish authorities in identifying British jihadists who now pose such a grave threat to our national security?
As the thin blue line becomes fractured, assaults on police are increasing as is stress related sickness yet of course there are further cutbacks to come. You have thus far refused to deny that the ultimate 'reform' of the police is the reduction of numbers to a mere 80,000 officers.
However you attempt to show that everything in the law enforcement garden is lovely, the simple fact is that you are responsible for making a pigs ear out of a silk purse at a time when the UK is facing a twin threat from both terrorism and serious public disorder. For this Home Secretary, you will not be forgiven and your place in history will be assured for all the wrong reasons.
There is, however, still time to change your speech!
(Metropolitan Police 1978 to 2011)Suggest a correction