Cambridgeshire Police Federation has rejected the Home Secretary’s claim that the police have all the resources necessary to meet a pledge to follow “reasonable lines of inquiry” when investigating crime.
Branch chair Liz Groom described Suella Braverman’s comments as “out of touch” and accused her of failing to address the root causes of the crisis in policing.
Ms Braverman’s comments came after the College of Policing published guidance for officers in England and Wales to consider all potential evidence such as footage from CCTV, doorbells and dashcams, as well as phone tracking.
The College of Policing said members of the public would then know what they can expect from police when they report a crime such as burglary or theft and that the service would become more consistent across regions and solve more crimes.
The Home Secretary said no crime was “minor” and officers should always act on leads for phone or car theft, shoplifting and criminal damage.
She said: “The police have a record number of men and women working on their frontline than ever before. So they have the numbers of people who are there.
“This is about ensuring that those resources are properly diverted to what I call common sense policing, back-to-basics policing, that they don’t dismiss certain crimes as unimportant or minor.
“It’s about ensuring that they are freed up from doing other time-consuming tasks.
She said that Government efforts were “about freeing up police time from needless bureaucracy”.
Ms Braverman insisted Government crime policies were working but warned members of the public were often dissatisfied by the police’s response to reports of crime.
She said: “The police have made progress in preventing crime across the country with neighbourhood offences like burglary, robbery and vehicle theft down by 51 per cent since 2010.
“Despite this success, since I became Home Secretary I’ve heard too many accounts from victims where police simply haven’t acted on helpful leads because crimes such as phone and car thefts are seen as less important – that’s unacceptable.
“It has damaged people’s confidence in policing. Criminals must have no place to hide.”
Liz said Ms Braverman’s comments revealed a failure to understand the pressure under which police officers operate.
She said: “I would imagine most police officers were taken aback by the Home Secretary’s comments.
“Our members work incredibly hard, often in very difficult circumstances, and always do their utmost to provide a high-quality police service for the people of Cambridgeshire.
“This is despite the years and years of cuts to funding, resources and policing infrastructure which have forced huge changes to the way the police operate and respond to call-outs.
“If the Home Secretary thinks she can wave a magic wand and expect an immediate return to the neighbourhood policing model she talks about then I’m afraid she is out of touch.
“She should focus her effort on ensuring policing is well funded and well resourced and that our members are recognised and properly rewarded for the difficult jobs they do.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has dismissed Ms Braverman’s pledge as unrealistic given the squeeze on police funding at a time of rising crime and accused her of attempting to interfere with police independence.
In an open letter written in response to the Home Secretary’s announcement, NPCC chair, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, said: “To see trust in police return to where it used to be, an effectively staffed and properly funded police service is essential.”
Mr Stephens said 21 of the 43 forces in England and Wales “still have less officers than in 2010” and added: “It is therefore right that police chiefs have operational independence and are responsible for making difficult decisions around how best to respond to the breadth of priorities of local communities.”