Brian Sims

Home Secretary orders review into political activism in police service

HOME SECRETARY Suella Braverman has commissioned a review into activism and impartiality in the police service. In a letter to policing leaders, Braverman sets out her expectation that the police service should focus its attentions on tackling crime rather than being involved in political matters and the Home Secretary’s intention to continue working with policing leaders to ensure that forces’ time is always spent on the public’s priorities.

Braverman has commissioned His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to undertake a review of the extent to which involvement in such activities may be impacting on the “effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy” of operational policing in England and Wales by influencing policing policy, priorities and practice.

The policing model in England and Wales ensures that the police service should, at all times, adopt a position of political neutrality.

In her letter to police chiefs, the Home Secretary praises police forces for the hard work and dedication that they display every day, noting the extraordinary levels of bravery and commitment displayed by officers up and down the country.

However, Braverman also highlights cases where she believes public confidence has been damaged by police engaging in contentious issues. These episodes include policing gender-critical views on social media, conduct at political marches and officers taking the knee.

Focus on cutting crime

The Home Secretary stated: “The British people expect their police to focus on cutting crime and protecting communities. Political activism does not keep people safe, solve crimes or support victims, but can damage public confidence.

The review I’ve commissioned will explore whether or not the police becoming involved in politically contentious matters is having a detrimental impact on policing. I will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that policing acts for the benefit of the British public.”

Specifically, the HMICFRS review has been asked to cover:

*policies and processes that go further than – or contravene – obligations set out in the Equality Act 2010 and how those impact operational decision-making

*the quality and neutrality of associated training provided to implement such policies and processes and by which organisation(s) this is delivered

*the selection process for groups that are consulted on revisions to policy or process, how decisions are made on which policies and processes are selected for amendment, how the views expressed by those groups are balanced against others and what consideration is afforded to other groups that may be impacted as a result

*the involvement of staff networks in the development of policies and processes and the use of policing resources and time dedicated to such networks and whether they are involved in contested political matters

*communications with the public on these issues, including on social media platforms

Report timeline

The Home Secretary has requested that the report is published by the end of March next year as part of the Government’s drive to see more “common sense policing” that will involve the police service spending its time wisely and making sure the basics are right.

The review is part of a series of measures announced by the Home Secretary to ensure the police service is acting on the British people’s priorities by giving them the resource they need and freeing up officers’ valuable time.

This includes reforming Home Office Counting Rules for crime to reduce back office paperwork, rolling out the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ initiative on a national footing such that police officers are not attending as many mental health call-outs as is the case at present and also recruiting 20,000 additional police officers through the Police Uplift Programme. The latter push means that England and Wales now harbour record numbers of serving officers.

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