It’s difficult to know where to begin when addressing this topic. It is an area close to my heart and it bothers me greatly as to where the safety and protection of the people of this country lies at this present time.
The police always policed us with our consent. It was the tradition that the underlined the office of `Constable`. Political interference was never on the radar as it is now. Never before has the politicization of the modern day police force been more prevalent.
In 2001 the summer riots that spread across the country took us all by surprise. It should have been on the radar though as the country had come through very taxing times, three day weeks, power cuts and strike after strike that rendered the country often standing still.
I was just twenty years old. I was thrust onto the front line at Chapeltown in Leeds. The Chapeltown road was simply on fire, it was like a scene from an Armageddon film. The buildings either side of the road were on fire. Cars strewn across the road were also burning. We had seen other units of police officers under an avalanche of petrol bombs, rubble and bricks.
We were told to go around gardens, we pinched dustbin lids to use as shields. Once in place standing across the road, we realized that it was simply raining petrol bombs and bricks. Many were injured.
Within two weeks Margaret Thatcher and the then Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw had ensured the police were fully equipped with riot shields and uniform and training. Never again were we left bare of equipment and more importantly, support.
The Tories throughout the next few years proved without a doubt that they were the party of law and order. They engendered an un-waving support from the police and associated bodies. On that fateful day when Margaret Thatcher left Downing Street in tears, it is my opinion that law and order left with her.
The Tories have since abandoned the Police. Fast forward to the last few years when Teresa May the current PM was then Home Secretary. At the annual Police Federation Conference, usually a warm welcoming place for Home Secretaries she was greeted to boos and heckling. The cuts to the service were biting deep. Changes to terms and conditions of service had seen all levels of support eroded.
She told the serving officers they were `jobsworths` and that they were `crying wolf`. How wrong she was. Amber Rudd the next Home Secretary fared no better, angering rank and file officers. She left them knowing that without a shadow of a doubt, the Police Force had no support from the current Home Secretary. A 1% pay rise this year after eight years of no pay rises was a further complete kick in the teeth.
It is clear to anyone that law and order has broken down in this country to an alarming level. One could ask if it will ever be retrieved. Can we return to normality or have we gone too far. In-effective Police & Crime Commissioners, direct entry at senior policing levels, introduced by David Cameron which was always going to be a disaster. You simply cannot police streets without that basic experience gained with dealing with societies flotsam and jetsam over a number of years. Being a senior Police Officer demands so much more than the ability to man management and control budgets. Now the necessity for a degree as an entry to the profession, this all adds up to a level of service that in my opinion could very soon be beyond resuscitation.
So what could be the remedy? Without the current government wishing to tackle the many and varied issues we have to realistically resort to campaigning. Ukip needs to become the party recognized for law and order. Strong messages and stances will endear us to both the electorate but also and very importantly, the policing family.
At the UKIP conference last week I made a point of going to the police officers who were on duty, shook their hands and chatted to them. They were clearly overwhelmed by this. Other kippers did it too. The officers were ready and quick to speak as to their hopeless situations. They declared disappointment that they felt left behind, unrepresented and abandoned.
Shaking hands though is not enough. We have to as a party, be a force for good. Contact the Home Office, local PCC`s and divisional commanders. We have to start asking questions about CSE, policing plans and resources.
If you see a copper approach them, tell them Ukip is their friend. Tell them Ukip believe in what they are doing and support their day to day actions to keep us safe. Tell them about our manifesto policies for law and order. Thank them for their service.
The men and women that don the blue, day in day out twenty-four seven deserve our support and respect. They need to know that Ukip strongly believes that they should not be a political football.
Let us make sure they know this.