‘Government must repair relationship with policing’


PUBLISHED 05 Jul 2024

IN News

The new Government’s plans for tackling crime and anti-social behaviour must be coupled with a concerted effort to repair the fractured relationship between political leaders and the police service, according to the secretary of Cambridgeshire Police Federation.

Scott Houghton was speaking after Labour’s landslide victory in yesterday’s General Election.

“I would like to start by congratulating Sir Keir Starmer and his successful candidates on their election success,” says Scott.

“The relationship between the previous Government and police officers had become incredibly strained. The austerity years took their toll with a reduction in police budgets coinciding with extra demands being placed on the police service through increased crime rates but also because we were left picking up the pieces for other services and organisations that were also stretched.

“As the service that can never say no, we were basically trying to do more with less, which had an impact on the service we provided but also put officers under mental stress.

“While the Police Uplift Programme increased officer numbers by 20,000 over the three years up until the end of March 2023, we are still feeling the impact of the under-funding, and this is particularly evident with officer pay which has fallen by 20 per cent in real terms.

“This, in turn, has contributed towards low officer morale as evidenced in the Federation’s pay and morale survey, which also revealed our members do not feel valued or respected by the Government and that they don’t feel they are fairly paid for the challenges and dangers of their role.”

Scott believes the Government, in seeking to deliver on its pre-election pledges on law and order, must first look at the police pay review process replacing the current mechanism with a truly independent system and says this is just as important as any pay award given.

He says this would be a fundamental step forward in terms of re-building the relationship between policing and the Government and ensuring that the country has a fully motivated and valued police service.

“The new Government has a golden opportunity to restore effective links with policing which would benefit politicians and police leaders but, critically, the communities we all serve,” Scott explains.

“If Labour wants to deliver on its manifesto pledges, it needs to work with the Federation and other representative bodies so that we can all pull together and overcome the current crisis in the police service.”

Labour while campaigning in the run-up to the election announced plans to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and said its mission was to ‘take back our streets’, reducing serious violence and rebuilding public confidence in policing by getting officers back on the streets.

The party said it would introduce a new Neighbourhood Policing Guarantee, restoring patrols to town centres by recruiting thousands of new police officers, police and community support officers (PCSOs) and Special Constables and putting 13,000 extra neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat. 

It pledged to introduce new penalties for offenders, get knives off the streets, set up a specialist rape unit in every police force and launch a new network of Young Futures hubs.

Funding for its manifesto pledges would come from ending private schools’ tax breaks and a Police Efficiency and Collaboration Programme.