The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, should have had plenty to talk about when she addressed the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chiefs’ Council Partnership Summit on Wednesday.
Last month the Casey Report gave a damning verdict on the Metropolitan Police, describing a culture of racism, homophobia and misogyny, as well as allegations of serious misconduct not being upheld.
A week ago Politics Home reported,
“The independent inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have warned that a culture of misogyny, sexism and predatory behaviour towards members of the public and female colleagues persists across many UK police forces today.”
The same report found that there were too many cases of people, including those with criminal records or links to organised crime, being allowed to join the police and that it was “too easy” for them to do so. Failures in vetting procedures in many police forces mean that many hundreds and possibly thousands of corrupt police officers have been recruited in recent years.
So what did Braverman say? She acknowledged the reports mentioned above but passed over the fact that this culture is institutionalised across police forces. Instead wanted to get rid of ‘politically correct distractions’ like ‘debating genders on Twitter’ and she chose to praise the Manchester Chief Constable because he was ‘anti-woke.’
She went on to attack ‘misplaced cultural and political sensitivities in places like Manchester, Rotherham, and Telford [that] got in the way of tackling wicked grooming gangs preying on vulnerable children.’ She spoke about downgrading ‘non-crime hate incidents’ whatever that means.
Braverman really warmed to her subject when she got onto the ‘criminal activists’ like Just Stop Oil, ‘the radicals, the road-blockers, the vandals, the militants and the extremists.’ Civil disobedience is now ‘a threat to our way of life.’
Some may take comfort from the pushback her comments provoked from some of the senior police officers at the conference, who defended diversity and inclusion. But these are empty words compared to the reality of racist and sexist policing across the country. And not many of us would recognise Braverman’s criticism of ‘good-humoured policing’ on the pickets and protests that we have attended.
The fact is we have a Home Secretary who has broken the law with her treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and who has the temerity to lecture those who stand up for human rights and to protest against climate catastrophe as unpatriotic, criminal extremists. Just like Thatcher 40 years ago she regards us as the enemy within.
And Starmer’s Labour Party endorses this rampant authoritarianism by condemning demonstrators and calling for stricter sentences. All the more reason to demonstrate our support for direct action to defend what is left of our rights. We cannot leave it to police chiefs and politicians to do it for us.