Here’s the contradictory nature of Tory policy exposed in all its grubby grimness:
Priti Patel has been challenged to explain whether she could “survive” on the salaries she pays to local police officers – and ran away from answering.
Meanwhile, she is demanding the right to interfere in local policing matters – possibly criticising officers for failing to do work she does not pay them enough to manage.
According to Nation.Cymru,
Detective Constable Vicky Knight, a single mother who had worked in policing for more than two decades, asked Priti Patel if she would be able to “survive” on £1,200 or £1,400 a month.
Describing how she is paid “a couple of hundred pounds a month more than the workers in McDonald’s flipping burgers” and less than her “local manager at Lidl”, Ms Knight told how ahead of her most recent pay day she had to borrow £40 from her mother so she could put fuel in her car and buy food for her son’s school lunches “because I had no money left at the end of the month”.
“I went to see an accountant and the advice was leave the police, work for 22 hours a week and claim benefits and you will be better off. How can that be right?”
Patel did not answer the question; we don’t know whether she thinks she could survive on the pay she tells police officers to accept.
But we do know delegates at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales groaned when she whined that their organisation had not been “at the table” for pay negotiations; it is currently in dispute with her because she has imposed a pay freeze for officers and there were, therefore, no negotiations to be done.
While she is depriving police of the salaries they need in order to be able to do their jobs, it seems Patel is demanding the right to criticise them for any failures.
In a row with Police and Crime Commissioners, she is planning a unilateral revision of rules that define where policing responsibilities lie, in order to grant herself more power to interfere in local services.
She wants to take back power to demand answers from chief constables on local policing matters – and ability that was given to commissioners a decade ago when their role was created.
Obviously the ability to demand answers also provides an implied ability to criticise police services for failings – even though any failures may be because she has not provided the resources to do the job.
According to The Guardian,
The proposed protocol says: “We propose to lower the threshold for home secretary intervention in appropriate circumstances. This would equip the home secretary to intervene earlier as required, thus reducing the risk of failing to deliver effective policing.”
Apparently this is a reflection of a policy adopted by Patel since she became Home Secretary, called “lean in”. Perhaps it would more accurately be phrased as “lean on“.
Another example of this policy would appear to be her demand that chief constables act “in a politically neutral manner”, which has been added to the previous stricture that they must be impartial.
This would restrict them from commenting on public policy that they believe may affect crime fighting – such as the effects of austerity. Nor would they be allowed to speak out publicly on issues of political dispute like tougher sentences or opposing the decriminalisation of cannabis, which is supported by some frontline politicians.
In their response to Patel’s proposals, commissioners said she would need to seek an Act of Parliament to impose them as they are beyond her statutory powers at the moment – “ultra vires”:
“Creation of new powers of strategic oversight can only be achieved through primary legislation and must be subject to the full scrutiny that is required of primary legislation.”
So we see a hardline Home Secretary, attempting to dictate the behaviour of local police forces while denying them the resources to their job.
How ironic that she is currently being restricted with rules imposed by her own Tory forerunners.
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