Policing should not be used as a “political football”, a body representing the profession’s rank-and-file has said after Suella Braverman accused officers of partisanship on controversial issues.
The Police Federation of England and Wales responded to the Home Secretary’s announcement that she has ordered a review into “police impartiality” by suggesting the Government wants its members to “act like robots.”
Deputy chairwoman Tiffany Lynch said: “Policing should never be put on any political agenda and is too important to be kicked around like a political football.
“Our members want to go out there and serve communities in the best way possible, but need help when the Government constantly changes the goal posts.
“One minute they want police officers to be more involved, the next, they want them to act like robots.”
Labour criticised Ms Braverman for commissioning a report “into her own political obsession”, and the Liberal Democrats accused her of using the police “as a weapon in her culture war”.
It comes after Ms Braverman commissioned His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to review what she described as “activism and impartiality” in the police.
Giving examples, she said officers should not be taking the knee or “policing gender-critical views on social media”.
She told the Telegraph newspaper: “In recent years, we’ve seen an unacceptable rise in police partisanship and the police straying into politically contested areas.”
The Home Secretary, who once railed against the “tofu-eating wokerati”, is regarded as a divisive figure because of her remarks on “culture war” issues.
She has previously drawn a distinction between what she calls “common sense policing” of high-priority crime and matters of “political correctness”, which she says are often a distraction.
In her letter to policing leaders, Ms Braverman said officers should focus on tackling crime rather than being involved in political matters.
“The review I’ve commissioned will explore whether the police getting involved in politically contentious matters is having a detrimental impact on policing. I will leave no stone unturned in ensuring policing acts for the benefit of the British public,” she said.
A Labour spokesperson said: “Instead of setting out serious practical policies to tackle Tory failures, all the Home Secretary is doing is commissioning reports into her own political obsessions – and while she’s doing this, more criminals are being let off and more victims are being let down.”
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “For the Home Secretary to use the police as a weapon in her culture war while criticising them for being political is a new low – even by her standards.”
Ms Braverman’s announcement comes at the end of the Government’s “crime week” of linked announcements – part of its summer recess policy blitz, after “small boats week” and “health week”.
The Home Secretary has requested that the findings of the HMICFRS review are published by the end of March next year.
It has been asked to cover matters such as the selection process for groups that are consulted on revisions to policy or process and the involvement of staff networks in formulating policies.
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