A Six-Year Nightmare for Policing and Borders, And Now the Top Job? An Open Letter to Theresa May

04/07/2016 14:22 | Updated 04 July 2016

Dear Home Secretary,

You probably won't be surprised to hear that your decision to stand as a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership has been greeted with a combination of dismay and disbelief by rank and file police and UK Border Force officers.

How typical that after speaking of unity in your public statement announcing your candidature you couldn't resist launching another smear against the police service by reference to the Police Federation, Hillsborough and the Lawrence family together with your now discredited mantra that crime is down.

Police Morale Plummets

I wonder if, during your campaign you'll be quizzed as to why, under your stewardship, police morale has plummeted to record low levels, as measured by numerous surveys included those of the forces themselves. You state that you avoid the usual round of TV studios as if that is a source of pride. Isn't the real reason, as claimed by numerous journalists, that you avoid in depth 'Jeremy Paxman' type interviews so as to prevent any critical dissection of your policies in relation to policing and borders?

You were hailed as 'brave and courageous' for taking on the Police Federation at their conferences and if it had just been the Federation, unpopular with their own members, you may have gained some kudos. The 2014 conference was perhaps the point of no return when, in your speech, you listed every police transgression from Hillsborough to Plebgate. The effect was to smear the entire police service including those officers who weren't even born at the time of Hillsborough.

However, as you well know Home Secretary, the Police Federation and the police service are unable to take any meaningful action in response so wouldn't you describe your 'brave and courageous' speeches as the act of a playground bully giving a good kicking to those who can't defend themselves?

Of course you were in no danger of being shot at, spat at, punched, kicked, stabbed, petrol bombed or of being terrified that the mob you were facing would literally kill you if they were given the chance unlike those officers who you take a great delight in berating.

Do you remember how in 2015 you insulted rank and file officers by accusing them of 'scaremongering' and 'crying wolf?' Don't you realise Home Secretary, that constant denigration by yourself, the Prime Minister and other politicians together with the media makes officers even more vulnerable to abuse and assault on the streets. You show little respect for police so why should the cocaine fuelled, violent thug?

Explain why, Home Secretary, that when you make your constant references to police transgressions, you don't balance this by referring to the fact that the number of officers involved are but an infinitesimal speck when set against the tens of thousands of officers who have served or are serving since the 1980s?

'Police Reform is working; Crime is down."

You may (or may not be) surprised to learn that your constant reference to 'crime is down, police reform is working' has the same effect on any group of police officers as Tony Blair's 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime' in that the group collapses in mirth.

Why are you still using this phrase in your current campaign when crime, especially violent crime, is inexorably rising? You must surely know that the 300,000 plus shoplifting offences reported every year to police are but a tenth of these crimes actually committed. That, in itself, would drive a coach and horses through your much vaunted crime figures.

Then there is the fact that fraud is reaching epidemic proportions with almost every adult being the victim of crime even if that crime is an attempt at 'email phishing.' You know don't you Home Secretary that only a fraction of reported frauds or attempted frauds find their way on to police crime reports and if that changes, national crime figures will soar.

Surely your advisers have also told you that much youth crime is also unreported including assaults, sexual abuse, robberies, stabbings and drug dealing.

Added to this is the largely hidden iceberg of child abuse, sexual offences and domestic violence which is already placing a huge strain on police resources with officers carrying impossible caseloads.

"Racist" Stop and Search.

Police officers don't often use the term 'blood on your hands' but I've heard and seen this frequently in relation to your assertions that stop and searches have been both excessive and racist which inevitably has led to a reduction in stop and search.

In the Met, arrests as a result of stop and search were down by 1,000 a month. The result, Home Secretary, has seen an increase in gun and knife crime together with gang activity resulting in injury, misery and death.

Quelle surprise, Home Secretary, that the Met and other forces have had to launch operations to reduce the carnage and these operations involve, yes, stop and search. And talking of stop and search, who will forget, just two days after the line of duty death of PC Dave Phillips, David Cameron's speech to your party conference where he stated with a stunning lack of sensitivity: "Opportunity doesn't mean much to a black person constantly stopped and searched by the police because of the colour of their skin."

Have you ever given any thought to those 'racist' police officers who are often first at the scene of any shooting or stabbing and then fight desperately to keep that person alive? Of course those same 'racist' officers have to deal with the grief of the family if they fail and each victim, whether involved in gang activity or not, is someone's son, daughter, sister or brother.


Police and public battle to save the life of a Peckham stabbing victim

Perhaps, Home Secretary, 'racist' police officers actually view stop and search as a way of protecting young people rather than harassing them; after all the poor socioeconomic conditions in which gang activity and violent crime flourish is the fault in successive inept governments and politicians. It is the police that have to clean up the resultant mess.

UK Jihadis and Chocolate Teapot UK Borders
Of course, 'blood on your hands' needn't just apply to stop and search. Perhaps you could explain Home Secretary, why, when the trickle of jihadis and jihadi brides leaving the UK became a flood you failed to act. You refused to impose staffed exit checks at our borders, no additional counter terror/Special Branch officers were deployed at air and sea ports and no British police officers were deployed to Turkish airports to assist the Turkish authorities. The result; hundreds of jihadis back in the UK with many still unidentified.

Armed Police and Complacency?
Then there is the question of armed police Home Secretary and your lackadaisical response to the increasing threat from terrorism. Armed officers began to feel concerned after the Mumbai massacre in 2008 and these concerns escalated after the murder of Lee Rigby and the Westgate shopping mall slaughter in Nairobi.

After that we had the Ottawa memorial murder, the attempts on the lives of police officers by lone wolf knifeman in New York and Melbourne, the shooting dead of a police employee in Sydney, the Sydney siege, Charlie Hebdo, the shooting dead of four individuals at the Jewish museum in Belgium, the French train incident, Sousse and plots to kill British police officers plus numerous plots frustrated by the UK's security services and police.

Why Home Secretary, under your watch and despite this massively increased threat did you sit on those hands as the number of armed officers in England and Wales fell by over 1,000? Only with the deaths of 130 innocents in Paris and the threat of political suicide, did you act and, as a result, frantic attempts are now under way to recruit additional armed officers. Even these attempts are handicapped by fear, not of armed conflict, but of the consequences if officers have to pull the trigger. Meanwhile officers are still complaining that outside the big cities armed support could still be 30 minutes away.

The Slow Strangulation of Community Policing.

As for community policing, so vital in the fact against terrorism and criminality; that has died in certain parts of the country while in others it is hanging on by its fingertips due to cuts in police numbers. Your closures of police stations have taken police from the heart of the many communities throughout the country yet amazingly in Parliament David Cameron actually claimed that the number of neighbourhood police had increased on your watch; a comment which provoked outrage and ridicule amongst the police community.

Police Need to Restore Public Confidence?

Finally police have had to endure your oft repeated comments about the need to restore public confidence. Are you not aware that public confidence in the police, despite constant denigration from yourself, other politicians, activists and the media remains constant at around 66%? Are you also not aware that public confidence in politicians such as yourself languishes at around 20%? This begs the question as to who are you to lecture police on the issue of public confidence especially after the appalling toxic Brexit campaigns conducted by your fellow politicians from both Leave and Remain?