Police chiefs last night condemned Boris Johnson’s high-profile crime-fighting strategy as “bizarre and fanciful”, while plans to increase stops and searches were criticized for ignoring the evidence.
The crime initiative was supposed to show that the Johnson administration was taking over the agenda. But senior police officers, the grassroots, opposition politicians and even some businessmen have reprimanded him.
Criticism of Johnson’s criminal plan is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Prime Minister’s national stimulus, after his historic ‘leveling up’ speech was mocked for being light on the details and his overhaul plan social care delayed by Treasury squabbles and a conservative backlash against tax hikes.
Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said the plan was a “tinkering” and would do nothing to rebuild a failing system. “This is just a policy reshuffle that will not make our streets safer or prevent crime,” he said.
“Court delays are at an all time high, while convictions for the most serious crimes, including rape, are at an all time high. The government’s tinkering proposals do little to reverse the effects of the closure of 295 courts in England and Wales, or to deal with massive cuts in drug treatment services, the police, the CPS and its government’s entire judicial system since 2010. ”
Among the strategy’s proposals are:
- Permanent relaxation of the conditions of use of the powers of stop and search of article 60 by the police force to fight against the crime with the knife.
- Expand the use of electronic surveillance for thieves on release from prison.
- Testing the use of alcohol labels – which detect alcohol in the sweat of offenders guilty of alcohol-related crimes – on prison leavers in Wales.
- Make unpaid work “more visible” by forcing offenders to clean streets and open spaces.
Offenders performing community service will wear high visibility clothing when cleaning canals or graffiti. “The intention is to make the price of crime visible,” said a source from the Interior Ministry.
Some police chiefs have privately mocked parts of the government’s plans, which the Guardian says were launched without consulting law enforcement officials or frontline officers.
A police chief condemned a filing plan measuring how quickly forces respond to emergency and non-urgent calls: “So the forces can answer the phone, say hello and hang up. It should depend on the quality of what you are doing.
Another chief constable said: “It is a true assumption of the over 50s that picking up the phone is an indicator of effectiveness.
“It’s about what you do after you answer the call. Some mental health calls take two hours.
One chef said of the set, “It’s just weird… and a little whimsical. Why mark burglars on their release from prison, and not perpetrators of domestic violence or rape suspects? “
When asked if this would reduce crime, the chief replied, “No, but it will waste some officers’ time. It does not solve the big problems. “
Problems identified by police leaders include the poverty and social inequalities that have widened in recent years, as well as the changing dynamics of drug markets.
Another police chief said of the measures, some of which were recycled from past announcements: “It’s like there’s been an explosion at a strategy factory. “
Johnson, selling the plans, claimed “fluorescent jacket chain gangs” of offenders would be visible to the public, paying for their crimes.
This was spoiled by James Timpson, of the shoemaker who funds the recruitment and training of ex-offenders, who said on Twitter: “Instead of forcing offenders to wear high-visibility vests in chain gangs, how about helping them find real work instead?” In my stores we employ a lot of ex-offenders and they wear a shirt and tie. The same people, a different approach, a much better result.
Johnson described a planned relaxation of the rules governing the use of stop and search without an officer needing reasonable suspicion: “I think giving the police the support they need in law to arrest someone one, to search them, to relieve them of a dangerous weapon, I don’t think that’s a tough tactic, I think it’s a kind and loving thing to do, ”he said.
Andy George, President of the National Black Police Association, said: “There is no evidence for the Prime Minister’s claims regarding the effectiveness of the checks and searches, but there is ample evidence that he is discriminatory, unfair. and does not prevent the plague in the long run. violent crime.
“Blacks are nine times more likely to be arrested and searched; innocent blacks are nine times more likely to be arrested and searched. It seems like a discriminatory thing, not a loving thing to do. The Prime Minister should be aware of this because these are the official statistics. “
Victor Olisa, former Scotland Yard stop and search manager, said: ‘Relying stop and search as a key crime reduction tactic suggests a level of desperation in this government’s ideas to stem the growing level of violence on our streets. ”
The second part of the plan to fight crime foresees that the government promises greater use of the special “Nightingale” courts. With that comes a crisis in the criminal justice system: Courts are on hold with some cases waiting for three years, police demand increases, and an expectation of violence will increase as the lockdown eases and society is opening up.
Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has been keen to re-establish relations with the police, which broke off during years of austerity with the reduction in the number of police officers and government denials which contributed to the increase in police force. violent crimes.
He has pledged and is on track to deliver 20,000 more officers within three years, but there are signs that relations are unraveling.
The leaders of the Police Federation, representing 130,000 base officers, are furious that their salaries have been frozen and have condemned the criminal plan as containing “stuff” and “bad thought”.
Simon Foster, Commissioner of Police and Crime for the West Midlands, said: ‘After a decade of cuts, during which my numbers were down by a quarter and community policing was dismantled, this is the the height of hypocrisy for the government to talk about wanting communities to have appointed police officers with whom they can come into contact.