In her first major speech since being appointed Home Secretary, Priti Patel has addressed attendees of the Police Superintendents’ Association’s (PSA) Annual Conference. The Home Secretary acknowledged that policing had been underfunded and under-supported, and outlined that she’s determined to properly address this and ‘reset’ the situation which successive Governments had allowed.
“I will do everything as Home Secretary to empower you to do your jobs,” urged Patel, before adding: “Restoring pride in policing is what I intend to do.”
On the issue of officer recruitment, the Home Secretary reiterated that funding was now in place to recruit 20,000 new police officers.
Chief Superintendent Paul Giiffiths, President of the PSA, reminded the Home Secretary in his own speech that, in order to restore officer numbers to their 2009 levels, approximately 40,000 officers would need to be recruited.
Patel also spoke about steps that she would be taking to assist and improve officer health, well-being and family support through the adoption and development of the Police Covenant, which the Federation has previously welcomed and endorses.
In a change to what has been said before, the Home Secretary indicated that both the Police Federation of England and Wales and the PSA would be invited to attend sessions of the recently convened National Policing Board.
When asked by a delegate attending conference why key bodies representing police officers had not been invited to attend the first meeting of the National Policing Board, the Home Secretary responded by saying that she’s “keen for all elements of the police family to be properly represented.”
Pressing for full representation
The Police Federation welcomes this development, but would continue to press for full representation for all police staff associations at the National Policing Board.
To better protect police officersm the Home Secretary said that she would be working with others in Government to review the sentencing guidelines which courts could administer to those who were found guilty of assaulting police officers, but gave no specific policy proposals in her speech.
Police Federation national chair John Apter, who had a meeting with the Home Secretary before she made her speech, commented: “Both the previous Home Secretary and Priti Patel have made it clear that policing has not been given the priority that it should have been afforded. The positive stance coming from the Home Office, and indeed wider Government, is refreshing and something we haven’t seen in over a decade.”
Apter concluded: “I welcome this and look forward to working with the Home Office to bring about the positive change to policing that’s being proposed and is so desperately needed.”