Police blast Boris Johnson’s crime ‘gimmicks’ over pledge to give every victim own officer to call
Police blast Boris Johnson’s crime ‘gimmicks’: Fury over Prime Minister’s pledge that every victim will get their own named officer to call
- The prime minister is set to announce his new ‘beating crime plan’ on Tuesday
- Police Federation said pledge is unworkable and would achieve little due to cuts
- Chairman Ken Marsh doubted Johnson’s claim that he backs police ‘all the way’
Boris Johnson was accused of trading in ‘gimmicks’ last night after he pledged every victim of crime would be given access to a named officer.
The Prime Minister will unveil his ‘beating crime plan’ tomorrow after leaving his Chequers country retreat following Covid isolation.
He will vow to ensure that every victim has ‘a named officer to call – someone who is immediately on your side’.
But the Police Federation said the pledge was unworkable and would achieve little in the face of the Tories’ record of cutting their resources.
At least 667 stations with front counters have been shut since 2010 and, between then and 2018, forces in England and Wales lost 21,732 officers – a drop of 15 per cent.
The federation, which represents the rank and file, announced last week that it had no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel following a pay freeze.
Boris Johnson is set to announce his new ‘crime beating bill’ on Tuesday – but it has already been criticised by the Police Federation for being ‘unworkable’, particularly in the face of cuts
Announcing his plan in the Sunday Express, Mr Johnson said: ‘We need now to redouble our efforts, to continue to put more police out on the street, and to back them all the way.
‘We want everyone to know that if you are the victim of crime you have a named officer to call – someone who is immediately on your side.’
Other measures include league tables for 101 and 999 call answering times, more officers to tackle truancy and further efforts against county lines drug gangs.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, criticised the ‘named officer’ plan.
‘That’s a gimmick because it’s not practical,’ he said. ‘If that officer is on a shift pattern or off sick or on holiday, that just puts added pressure on that officer.
‘It doesn’t work in that way – you can’t start singularly naming officers because of the sheer nature of their work. If they’re not at work, what happens then?’
Mr Marsh also criticised Mr Johnson’s claim that he backed police ‘all the way’.
‘Well he’s not backing us all the way is he, he’s treating us in a derisory way,’ he said, raising concerns over how officers were treated in the pandemic.
‘And what do we get at the end of it? As usual, absolutely nothing. His words are hollow and my colleagues are fed up with it now.’
Dame Vera Baird, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said: ‘The Victims’ Code requires a continuing relationship with someone in the police if it is to be delivered effectively.
The Police Federation branded Johnson’s new plan to allocate every victim a named police officer a ‘gimmick’ that was ‘not practical’ (Pictured: Stock photo from an event in London)
‘So having a named officer to guarantee that could be helpful. But victims often now get the phone number of an officer in their case and it leads to dissatisfaction since they are busy, don’t keep appointments, aren’t always on shift and there is rarely anyone else who can keep a victim up to date.
‘Any new system of personal officers would have to ensure priority for communicating with victims.’
Claire Waxman, Victims’ Commissioner for London, tweeted: ‘PM wants to ensure every victim has a named police officer.
‘Not sure how this is a new initiative? It’s already an entitlement in the Victims Code of Practice.’
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘The hypocrisy from this Government knows no bounds. It is the Conservatives that decided to cut the number of frontline officers by 21,000, which has hammered neighbourhood policing.
‘Ministers also insulted police officers with a zero per cent pay offer. No wonder the Police Federation have no confidence in this Home Secretary.
‘Ministers are wasting millions on a pointless vanity yacht. Labour has been clear with its offer of more neighbourhood policing and scrapping the vanity yacht to invest in making communities safer.’