Can crime be beaten with a beaten down police force? The government certainly hopes so. Today, the Prime Minister launched the much trailed ‘Beating Crime’ Plan. Not trailed enough, according to the boss of the cops’ union, The Police Federation, who says the first he heard about the plan was last Sunday — shortly after his organisation, representing 130,000 front line officers, passed a vote of no confidence in the Home Secretary.
How has this fracture between police and politicians come to pass? In rhetorical terms, this is the most pro-police administration in the last ten years. It has certainly worked hard to exorcise the malign impact of Theresa May. Johnson’s administration has moved heaven and earth to reverse the criminally stupid cuts to uniformed officers that almost destroyed community policing and visible authority on the streets. Priti Patel has gone out of her way to praise and defend the thin blue line — so thin that it has looked like fraying on more than one occasion over the last eighteen turbulent months. The Prime Minister’s special adviser on crime is a former volunteer police officer like me and one of the most thoughtful and intelligent influencers in No. 10.
So what’s behind the police fury? From plague to protests, the service has been running so hot for so long that rank and file officers I speak to, even those uneasy at the Fed’s grandstanding, are genuinely angry. It has little to do with this mostly sensible plan. There are many positives in it that elevate the rights of victims and communities over perpetrators — no doubt the cause of much of the progressive lemon sucking from the left. Outside the quinoa belt, communities are tortured and demoralised by unsolved theft and burglary.