Cross-party smackdown for Home Secretary

A tweet crosses my desk from Cllr Kemp, itself a retweet from LGCPlus journalist Ruth Keeling. It contains a link to the Association of Police Authorities – not a body I am overly familiar with, but it has a fairly self-explanatory title.

The link is directly to a fairly draw-dropping cross-party letter from chairs of Police Authorities around the country who have a fairly serious beef with the Home Secretary’s accuracy in a recent speech.

Theresa May appears to have tried to shore up support for the Conservative policy of elected police commissioners by insinuating that in London, taxpayers got a better service from the elected police chief (and Mayor) Boris Johnson, than in other parts of the country where there are indirectly elected Chairs of Police Authorities instead.

A large number of Chairs of Police Authorities are not happy at the suggestion:

This un-evidenced, London-centric assertion was either regretfully ill-informed or wilfully inaccurate. In either case we believe it to be unbecoming of a Secretary of State. It has caused not only bemusement but anger amongst police authorities and our partners across the country.

Quite simply, your allegations are completely untrue and a cursory conversation with the relevant Chief Constables, Council Leaders or representatives of local media could have confounded it.

The facts are that not only Chairs, but the full range of diverse police authority members were out listening to communities and reflecting their concerns to the police at the highest levels in GOLD meetings across the country. Authorities provided both support and appropriate challenge to forces. We worked closely with Chief Constables to ensure that they had all that they needed to police confidently, with full operational independence in defence of the public. Both in public and in private, we simply got on with the job. Police Authority Chairs were out on the front foot; convening meetings with the leaders of other emergency services, local councils, local media and community leaders, as well as visiting affected areas.

It is a matter of record that a number of Police Authority Chairs actually cancelled their leave to ensure that the police could respond to public concerns. Before any politicians could tour the streets of London with TV cameras in tow, Police Authority Chairs from across the country had agreed the mutual aid which played an indispensable role in restoring order to London and ensuring that those streets were again safe to stroll. This was done without fanfare, but quietly, in the national interest.

Read the rest of the strongly-worded letter here.

Whilst you’re on the site, you might be interested, as I was to see their map of police authorities, the e-factsheet “What is a Police Authority?” and learn that there are also two non-geographical police authorities too. There’s something I didn’t know: there’s a British Transport Police Authority and a Civil Nuclear Police Authority.

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