Home Secretary tells conference: ‘Help me shape the future of policing’

The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has told police officers and officials he will be ‘standing with them’ as they shape the future of British policing together.

During his keynote speech on Day 2 of the national Police Federation conference at the ICC in Birmingham, Mr Javid delivered a positive address with an air of conciliation.

Having replaced Amber Rudd in office, he also replaced her hard-lined approach with a more personable style which was well-received by Federation representatives.

He said he wanted to wipe the slate clean and ‘re-set the relationship between the Government and the police’.

Mr Javid told delegates he understood forces were overstretched and under-resourced, and added that he wanted to tackle issues head-on with the help of the Federation.

Bedfordshire Police Federation chair Jim Mallen welcomed what he had to say.

“It will naturally take time for Mr Javid to fully understand all of the issues we face because they are numerous - but he seems determined to find out as much as he can, as quickly as he can,” says Jim.

“The speed at which he is able to deal with them will be crucial because in Bedfordshire, and nationwide, the police service is stretched to the very limit.

“It was positive that he wanted to ask our opinion and ask for our help to enable him to be fully armed when asking for funding and resources from his Government. Of course, we will do all we can to give him the evidence he needs to prove the situation we are in needs to be taken very seriously by Theresa May and the Treasury.

“He seemed genuine and it can only be a good thing that he has a brother in the police force. That will surely add to his understanding of the fact that cuts to our budgets have resulted in forces struggling to meet the demands placed upon them and the needs of the communities they protect.”

Having come into the role against the high-profile backdrop of the Windrush scandal, Mr Javid agreed to face what he said he had been told was a ‘traditionally hostile’ crowd at annual conference.

Addressing some 1,000 representatives from across the country, his relaxed approach seemed to win the audience.

“I’m not arrogant enough to turn up here after three weeks in the job and tell you how to do yours. What I will say is that I am listening and I get it,” he told delegates.

“I will prioritise police funding in the Spending Review next year and I want us to totally transform the welfare provision for officers. That’s why I am backing the Assaults on Emergency Service Workers’ Bill and supporting changes to the rules on police pursuits.”

Mr Javid said he wanted to meet officers and have their input to help shape the future. He is a supporter of a full roll-out of body-worn cameras and the distribution of spit and bite guards. He was pro-Taser and wanted to give officers the powers to use all of the equipment at their disposal.

He added that feedback from officers, forces and Federations alike would help shape their future.

“Your ideas and responses will inform what happens next in policing,” he said, “Because I understand that no-one knows more about policing than you do.

“Let’s reset the relationship between the Government and the police. I will give you the tools, the powers and the back-up that you need to get the job done. For those of you who stand on the front-line, be in no doubt, I will be standing with you.”

Responding to Mr Javid’s speech, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), Calum Macleod, said he wanted the Home Secretary to learn the lessons he predecessors had failed to do.

“He has certainly taken a different stance from his predecessor – certainly been more constructive. I think the audience appreciated that – but as I say, words are one thing, delivery is something else – and we need to get delivery for today, for tomorrow, and for five years’ time,” said Calum.

“We have to work with the Home Office and with Government to ensure positive changes for our membership and for the public are achieved – and that needs to start today.

“There are risks police officers are facing that need to be addressed, and they need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

A Q & A session rounded off the Home Secretary’s appearance with questions from the floor which led to some lively debate.

Mr Javid’s speech was the highlight of Day 2 but there was also a number of other sessions.

The issue of pay and conditions began proceedings with the Federation’s general secretary, Andy Fittes, leading a discussion around subjects including a new recruit starting salary of £18,000 which he claimed was ‘too low’ and a ‘fundamental issue’.

Andy was also on stage in the final session of the day when speakers outlined plans for the future of the Federation.

Before then, conference had broken up into three break-out sessions to discuss the ‘Crisis in Detectives’, a look at ‘A Career in Policing’ and a seminar entitled ‘Protecting Our Communities’, which featured the Federation’s operational policing lead, Simon Kempton, and the NPCC’s lead for local policing, Leicestershire Chief Constable Simon Cole.

There will be full reports on conference in Bedfordshire Police Federation’s upcoming Bedfed magazine.

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