Tuesday, October 19, 2021

How stop and search reform went from a meaningless slogan to a political statement

Six weeks ago, it was a symbol for the truth. The Civitas Foundation backed a campaign called “Defund the Police” and launched a website called DefundThePolice.org which was a concise expression of a concern that the state’s policing was too intrusive, and that more needs to be done to reduce the use of stop and search by police. Today, that phrase has changed to “Govt.mustImplementTougherPolicing Regulations”, a

phrase that still appears on the website, however. You can download it from “DefundThePolice.org” – unlike “Defund the Police” which I originally used. The wording is in the name of the website too, if you want to see the terms and use terms correctly. Indeed, the terms ‘Defunct’ and ‘Defiutn’ get used a lot, most recently in reference to the government’s Zero Tolerance Government Anti-Violence Agenda I had been a

proponent of the concept of “We need to do more to reduce crime”, I wrote to policing minister Ben Wallace that day. Earlier in the year I had advocated one of the most ground-breaking legislation ever designed to curtail stop and search under the 1983 Criminal Justice Act Back then I had proposed sweeping reforms of stop and search, radically reducing stop and search whilst retaining a civil approach and making it

clearer that any force that did not adopt “small and proportionate levels of stop and search” in individual areas could be penalised. It would also require forces to fill in a three year cycle of information collection on why someone was stopped. It has now been a while since I called for this kind of reform, which I know has been successful elsewhere – you can read my original attempt at updating the campaign here.

If you check out the recent changes to the “Govt.mustImplementTougherPolicing Regulations” site, you’ll find that the phrase “Defunct” and “Defiutn” are in two statements on the subject. Last week, I wrote that in light of that argument against stop and search reforms proposed by my Shadow Police Minister Andrew Gwynne, I thought that it could go from being a meaningless slogan to being a political statement that

helped bring about sensible reform. Not that it did. While this man (A constable who was not contacted) did indeed speak to one of my radio programs, he hasn’t managed to mobilise large numbers of views either way about our lack of policing reform. Let’s review what happened. Last week I received an update from Val Dolman, Chair of the National Association of Chief Police Officers. In that message he asked me to pass

on his thanks to me for my regular Christmas cards, which he said meant a lot to him, his family and colleagues. He also said that despite of it he was not happy about it, and he still doesn’t believe it’s the right thing for Parliament to be responding to. What the National Association of Chief Police Officers don’t seem to be aware of is that austerity has caused cuts to force budgets in order to help restore some

‘compensation’. In the words of Vancin Maurer, (former T4 Police Crime Commissioner) “I don’t recall ever hearing anything in the past – I was never a proponent of huge cuts to police resources – but I certainly never saw any suggestion that austerity is justified because of low compensation levels.” When officers were not being properly paid, morale levels plummeted, sickness rates rose and were bad enough for

officers to choose not to report for duty. That ‘breakdown in morale’ was passed on to officers’ families, who saw an upturn in the crime rate. It is only the Cameron government who ever considered making police compensation lower than it used to be, even though Tony Blair had his say about it in 1999. Perhaps, Thatcher’s successor might do a rethink, and remember what Tony Blair said about the ‘second most important

person in the country’ it is ‘the nation’s police.’ While politicians will try and decide the future of police funding in this country, the public can see what is actually happening by tracking as it was done in Birmingham last year, when CPD officers took to the streets to protest about cuts in pay and conditions and over 12 weeks later , the Mayor and the police force announced that the majority of these officers

will receive a pay rise.

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