THE BLOG

The Most Lamentable Home Secretary Ever? An Open Letter To Theresa May

05/06/2017 12:45

Dear Prime Minister,

Once again, we have seen the third terrorist attack in less than three months on the streets of the UK and once again you have praised our magnificent emergency services including the police, for their bravery.

I sometimes wonder if you realise the sheer contempt in which you are held by almost all within the police community and how hollow your words sound given your record as Home Secretary since 2010.

You severely damaged police pay and conditions for many officers by virtue of the 'impartial' report of Tom Winsor whom you rewarded by making him Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary then rubbed salt in police wounds by giving him a knighthood. Even Sir Tom, your loyal ally, Prime Minister, is warning you that policing is in a perilous state.

Denigration

It's not just the cuts Prime Minister; it's the vitriol you have heaped upon the police service in your various speeches and statements especially those when speaking at the Police Federation conference. In 2014 you listed every police transgression going back to the 80s even though the number of 'guilty' officers would be a tiny fraction of all the tens of thousands that have served during that period.

Then in 2015, it was the speech that accused police of 'scaremongering' and 'crying wolf.' What price 'crying wolf' and 'scaremongering' now, Prime Minister, as the people of the UK are faced with dead and injured citizens on our streets due not only to terrorism but to gun and knife crime, which is rising dramatically.

Perhaps the most insulting action by yourself is when you thank police for 'making police reform work.' Despite rising crime and the mass of serious unreported crime, you are still, at election time, spouting the ridiculous mantra that 'crime is down, police reform is working.'

Gun crime, knife crime, stop and search - oh yes and moped crime

How unfortunate Prime Minister, that just days before you were praising police for their bravery in Manchester, you had effectively accused them of being racist in your election manifesto by threatening to clamp down on stop and search by means of legislation. Truly breath-taking, given the fact that the knife and gun crime genies are out of their respective bottles, causing carnage on the streets of London and other major cities. Oh, and let's not forget moped crime, up 600% in London over two years.

There are many in the police family who say you have blood on your hands because of your attitude to stop and search. You may comfort yourself by virtue of the nonsense spouted by your deeply unpopular College of Policing but the fact is that you instituted the clampdown on stop and search and the result has been an explosion of violent crime. Shame that the van which transported the terrorists on Saturday wasn't stop and searched before its occupants went on the rampage, eh Prime Minister?

Sitting on hands

How was it that on your watch, despite terrorist incidents across Europe and the world including the Nairobi Westgate Shopping Centre massacre and the Lee Rigby murder, all of which sent shudders through our police service, armed officer numbers declined. Even in 2015 with the Paris Charlie Hebdo atrocity and the massacre of mainly English nationals at Souse, you still sat on your hands as numbers of British armed police reduced still further.

On your watch, despite the increasing danger from terrorism, armed police numbers fell by 1,300 to less than 5,000. Only with the second Paris attacks, which included the Bataclan massacre, did you and your then-boss realise you were heading towards political suicide. Armed police numbers are increasing but when the 'uplift' is completed, the numbers won't be far in excess from those in 2010.

Then we have the reduction in police numbers, Prime Minister. How you hoped this wouldn't appear on the police agenda but it has, like an ugly boil on the back of tragedy.

Let me ask you one question Prime Minister: given the current high threat level wouldn't those missing 21,000 officers and 26,000 PCSOs and police staff be pretty useful in the current dire situation? Across the country police stations have been closed, even those in substantial towns. It's not about visits to front counters, it's about communication, presence and reassurance and we hear a lot about reassurance now, don't we?

Police patrols have, in many places, vanished from the streets and community policing is suffering. There is a strong belief that your denigration of police together with that of the press has encouraged the criminal elements in our society to abuse and attack police officers to an unprecedented extent. After all, if the holder of one of the greatest offices in the land can vilify police, why shouldn't the thug on the street take that one step further?

Yes Prime Minister, you have not only made our streets less safe for the public, you've made life more dangerous for our depleted police force which is spread far too thinly across the UK. Your policies have resulted in cuts to crucial helicopter coverage - a few nights ago just two were covering the entire UK. In addition, dog units, so valued by front line officers, have been decimated and amazingly this includes explosive detection dogs.

Officers, many of whom are now single crewed, now find that their back-up is dangerously further away than ever while the location of custody suites means many officers have to leave their patrol areas to travel long distances if they have a prisoner. Little wonder that drunken yobs escape arrest on Friday and Saturday nights because officers are reluctant to leave their town centres unprotected. In any event, across the country frustrated officers report that 999 calls from desperate members of the public go unanswered simply because there are not enough police units to deal.

Community policing hitting the rocks

But what of community policing, Prime Minister? Your successor Amber Rudd squirmed when asked about community policing during an election debate and tried to claim that most intelligence came from Prevent. Perhaps it does now given the destruction that your policies have wrought on community policing, yet it is this traditional form of policing that you are systematically wrecking which provides crucial intelligence and, to use that word again, reassurance.

What price too the benefits of positive relationships and trust with all communities across Britain thus making life far more difficult for the terrorist and other criminals who blight our society. This includes the gangs who, let's face it, hold sway in many inner-city areas across the country and whose members can so easily 'move across' to even darker world of terrorism.

So, what assurances would you give Prime Minister to those living in country towns or those in busy resorts now packed with holidaymakers? These may well have no unarmed police presence never mind an armed one and are located where an attack could mean a twenty or thirty-minute wait before any armed unit arrives? Even the arrival of armed officers who are prepared to risk their lives (and an investigation by the IPCC) may not be adequate if the attack is similar to that experienced by Nice.

What was that, Prime Minister? Ah, you'd hold a Cobra meeting afterwards. Well we can all relax then.

Regards,

Chris Hobbs

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