Wed, 23 May 2018
Chair Calum Macleod has cautioned the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to "learn the lessons his predecessors failed to."
Mr Macleod delivered his warning today during his keynote speech at the Police Federation’s 94th annual conference entitled Protecting the Protectors – The Reality of Policing which is being held at the ICC in Birmingham. He spoke of his frustration when it came to changes in legislation in relation to assaults on emergency workers and trained police drivers – which the Federation has campaigned for over recent years and urged the Government to take the opportunity to make a difference.
He also highlighted the issue of poor officer pay and the increasing disconnect between the demand and capacity facing the police service. A hard-hitting video (above) depicting some of the many issues faced by frontline officers day in, day out featured as part of the address.
Delivering his speech to the new Home Secretary - appointed just three weeks ago - Mr Macleod emphasised the correlation between rising crime figures and falling officer numbers, something the Home Office itself denies is an issue. "Learn the lesson your predecessors failed to. Three years ago Theresa May accused us of ‘crying wolf’… Yet what have we seen? Robbery offences up 29%, knife crime up 21% and violent crime up 20%. These are not just statistics – every number is a real person – a real victim," he said. "Who’s crying now? Let me tell you who – thousands of families who became victims of crime as a result of budget cuts – that’s who."
Mr Macleod, speaking at his first conference since being elected as Federation Chair in January, talked of feeling "angry" and "let down" about the approach of the Government in relation to the legislative changes but said it was an opportunity for the Government to do more.
On the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill which is progressing through parliament, he said the legislation was intended to show emergency service workers that "they are not society’s punch bags for those fuelled by drink and drugs, or trying to evade arrest." He compared it to a piece of legislation which punishes animal welfare offences, which has seen an increase in the maximum sentence from six months to five years. This dichotomy, he said, added to the feeling police officers are "expendable, under-valued and worth less than an abused household pet."
Mr Macleod highlighted this and asked Mr Javid to "do what is right for police officers" by implementing the necessary legislation granting magistrates the power to impose longer sentences which has laid dormant on the statute book since 2003.
He also vented his frustration that the "abhorrent act" of spitting had not been implicitly mentioned in the new Bill especially as the Government had previously given assurances that it would feature.
Mr Macleod also spoke about the progress that has been made regarding the Federation’s campaign for better protection for trained police drivers and highlighted the potential backlash if police drivers were constrained to driving in strict adherence to the law over fears they would be prosecuted for doing otherwise.
Pay and the imbalance between demand and capacity which is increasingly evident in policing also featured and he urged the Home Secretary to "play his part" in making a "real difference" in this vitally important area.
He concluded his speech by urging the Government to seize the opportunity "to make a difference for the public and for the police. To put right the wrongs of the past. The opportunity to do what is right to ensure we have sufficient numbers, sufficient resources and sufficient funding to help keep the British public safe."
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