Minister defends police service in face of media criticism

Britain’s police officers are “incredible people” and the public should be proud of them, a Government minister has said.

Johnny Mercer launched a passionate defence of policing in the face of recent criticism and warned one-off incidents should not be taken out of context.

The veteran’s affairs minister’s comments were welcomed by Dyfed Powys Police Federation.

Speaking after reports of an incident in which a PCSO apparently failed to respond to a member of the public’s calls for assistance, Mr Mercer told Good Morning Britain: “I am an extremely strong supporter of the police. 

“You hear of these incidents but you have to bear it in the context of the hundreds of thousands of amazing police officers who every day go out and work in their communities, who prevent crime, who run towards danger, who put themselves in personal danger - often unarmed - in order to save lives and protect the public.”

Mr Mercer acknowledged recent scandals had knocked public confidence in policing and said senior officers would accept there were serious issues that needed addressing.

“Nobody can gloss over the problems there have been in the police and these have been found out by professional bodies over a sustained period of time,” he said.

“But we have to look at this realistically and be honest and the honest truth is the vast majority of police officers serve their communities in a manner in which we should take exceptional pride. They are exceptionally brave.

“I would never discourage anyone against going to the police. If you look at the odds you can almost guarantee that you are going to get an outstanding service.”

Johnny Mercer said people should take pride in Britain's police service

The minister warned of a growing trend to be critical of the police service and hold it in a negative light.

He said: “I think it has become slightly unfashionable for people to stand up for these people who get out of bed every morning and try to do right by their communities and try to uphold the law.

“It has become more fashionable to highlight the minority and the tiny percentage of cases that go horribly wrong.

“I think these people are incredible, I think they do an exceptional service to the British public.

“We are really, incredibly lucky - look at some of the police incidents that go on abroad.

“We are incredibly lucky at the standards of British policing, accepting that some have not met that standard over the years but you get that in any organisation.

“So I think we have to bear this stuff in context - nothing is black or white - and we should be incredibly proud of the British police.”

Dyfed Powys Police Federation chair  Gareth Jones welcomed Mr Mercer’s comments.

He said: “Our members always do their very best to serve their communities with professionalism and dedication to duty so it is reassuring to get recognition from a Government minister.

“Police officers would accept there is room for improvement in aspects of what we do but always strive to provide the best possible service to the public.”