Police officers should be able to operate “independently” without political interference, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) has said.
The NPCC chair Gavin Stephens says policing could be undermined if “public debate” has an influence on decision making. It comes as Home Secretary Suella Braverman has accused police of being baised in their handling of pro-Palestinian protests.
The Metropolitan Police has been under increased pressure to stop a march that is set to take place this weekend. However, Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said it would need to pose a threat of “serious disorder” for the protest to be stopped, reports the BBC.
He says this “very high threshold” has not been met. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak however vowed to hold Sir Mark “accountable” should there be unrest at the Armistace Day event.
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Stephens said that “in policing, we need the space to make difficult operational decisions in an independent manner”. He added: “The decisions that we take are not easy ones, but we do so impartially, without fear or favour, and in line with both the law and our authorised professional practice.”
The highly respected officer said it was “really important” that public debate “doesn’t feature” when officers are making decisions. Such influence he says could “fundementally undermine” the way police operate in the UK.
On Thursday, the Home Secretary called pro-Palestinian protesters “hate marchers” in an article in the Times. She said there was a “a perception that senior officers play favourites” when dealing with protests.
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She wrote: “Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law.”
The article has however drawn widespread criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. While Downing Street has also distanced itself from the remarks.
One senior Tory MP said the the “awfulness” of the remarks were a “reflection” on Sunak, going as far as to say it was “damaging him” to keep her in the post.
Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Anderson supported Braverman however. He said “anyone who thinks her comments are outrageous need to get out more”. Downing Street said it had not cleared The Times article, adding suggested changes had not been made.
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