Home Secretary urged to be ‘intrusive’ on officer welfare

The chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales has told the Home Secretary he wants her to be ‘intrusive’ on the welfare and safety of police officers.

John Apter was addressing Priti Patel on the opening day of conference today (9 June) which this year is themed ‘Policing Under Pressure’. It is the first time the annual national conference has been held virtually.

John said: “Within your first months as Home Secretary you agreed to my request to find additional money for the roll-out of Taser, an essential piece of equipment that protects my colleagues and has saved lives, and you found £10 million. 

“I welcomed that investment but we now need to find more money to continue that support. We need to ensure that every officer who wants Taser has access to it, no excuses, and also that every officer who wants body-worn video has access to that too.

“So, I have another ask of you Home Secretary: I want you to be intrusive when it comes to the welfare and safety of my colleagues.  I want you to question everything, what safety equipment they have, what training they receive and what support they get doing their job. I want you to ensure that my colleagues are given all the backing they need.”

Ms Patel, who acknowledged her ‘open and honest’ relationship with the national Federation, responded by evidencing what she has already achieved in terms of supporting the police service and by saying her support was ‘guaranteed’.

She said: “I have backed the Federation’s call for forces to share body-worn footage to counter highly selective and misleading video clips on to social media and I want forces to highlight the fantastic work of their officers to build public confidence.

“I will condemn the abuse of police officers whenever it happens and I will act. I have acted. We are doubling the maximum prison sentence for assault against emergency workers from 12 months to two years and I will not let the police be subjected to trial by social media.

“Those who have contempt for the police may be louder and more vitriolic than ever but they are vastly outnumbered and utterly wrong.”

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government was backing policing in a video address to conference.

Kit Malthouse, policing minister, also took part in a debate about Policing Under Pressure with a panel that also included Sir Thomas Winsor, the chief inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services.

There was a tribute to bravery award nominees and the Women in Policing Award was presented to Avon and Somerset Chief Inspector Sharon Baker.