Culture and standards in the police have to change, particularly in London, says home secretary Suella Braverman
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Police forces in England and Wales have been told that “common sense policing” must take priority over diversity and inclusion initiatives.
The UK’s new home secretary, Suella Braverman, said she was “dismayed” by the apparent deterioration of confidence in the police over recent years where high-profile incidents have “shattered” public trust.
In an open letter to police chiefs released on Saturday, Ms Braverman set out her key priorities for the police and her crime-cutting agenda.
“Culture and standards in the police have to change, particularly in London,” she wrote.
“It is absolutely vital that trust is restored and to address this, we must have visible and responsive policing.”
London’s Metropolitan Police was placed under a special monitoring and improvement programme in June and told to develop an improvement plan after criticism of its handling of several high-profile cases.
The force has been beset by revelations of a culture of bullying, racial discrimination and misogyny.
Trust was shaken after London police officer Wayne Couzens was convicted of murdering Sarah Everard. The Met was also criticised for the way it policed a vigil after her killing.
A woman visits a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, in London. Reuters
Ms Braverman said that there was a perception that forces have had to spend too much time on “symbolic gestures” rather than “actually fighting criminals”.
“This must change,” she said.
“Initiatives on diversity and inclusion should not take precedence over common sense policing.”
The home secretary went on to lay out her expectations of the police force, which included cutting serious violence, homicide and neighbourhood crime by 20 per cent.
She said she was also “deeply concerned” by the current level of cases being investigated and then prosecuted.
“I want to investigate how we can improve charge rates which have dropped for many crimes, but none more so than for rape and sexual offences against women and children,” she said.
Ms Braverman added that she will ensure forces have the tools and resources required for improvement.
This includes delivering an additional 20,000 officers promised through the Police Uplift Programme and the hundreds of millions of pounds in funding that the government has committed for 2022-2023.
She said: “At its best, policing in this country is the best in the world. That must and can be the standard that all forces hit. You have my full support in making that happen.”
Updated: September 24, 2022, 6:47 PM