Mon. Sep 27th, 2021

Keir Starmer says No 10 plan to give every victim named police officer is ‘ridiculous gimmick’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dismissed a Boris Johnson pledge to provide victims of crime with a named officer to call about their case as a “ridiculous gimmick”.

The prime minister is expected to unveil his new plan for “beating crime” on Tuesday, after leaving self-isolation at his Chequers country retreat.

Mr Johnson vowed on Sunday to make sure that every victim of crime has “a named officer to call, someone who is immediately on your side”.

But speaking to LBC on Monday, Sir Keir said officers would have too many cases to be a single point of contact. “This is just a gimmick by the prime minister yet again – he loves soundbites, he loves slogans, he loves gimmicks.”

The Labour leader added: “This one won’t work … if anything it will make things worse because individual officers work shifts, they’re doing investigations, they’re off duty. It will actually slow things down. It’s an ill-thought-through gimmick.”

Sir Keir said he was in favour of making sure victims “get information, they’re consulted, they’re engaged … I’m absolutely in favour of that, I would actually put that in law”.

The Labour leader also said home secretary Priti Patel’s position had become “untenable” following the Police Federation’s vote of no-confidence over a pay freeze.

Sir Keir told LBC on Monday he was “not surprised” by the move from the body representing rank and file officers. “I think that government has let down the police over 10 years now,” he said.

“It’s all very well saying they’re recruiting more officers now but they stripped 21,000 out over the last 10 years. They are now gradually replacing some of those officers. They, police, have been through added challenges over the last 18 months.”

On Ms Patel, the Labour leader added: “They’ve got no pay rise, and they feel very, very let down by our home secretary. So I think her position is untenable.”

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, also criticised the government’s “named officer” plan as unworkable.

“If that officer is on a shift pattern or off sick or on holiday, that just puts added pressure on that officer,” he said. “It doesn’t work in that way – you can’t start singularly naming officers because by the sheer nature of their work … if they’re not at work, what happens then?”

Other measures outlined by the prime minister in a piece for the Sunday Express included publishing league tables for 101 and 999 call-answering times, as well as intensifying efforts against county lines drug gangs.

Mr Johnson also claimed on Sunday that he backed police officers “all the way”.

However, Mr Marsh responded: “Well he’s not backing us all the way is he, he’s treating us in a derisory way.

“And what do we get at the end of it? As usual, absolutely nothing. His words are hollow and my colleagues are fed up with it now.”

Source: (The Independent)