The Conservative Party held their annual conference in Birmingham this week, which was noted for Boris Johnson’s attempt to challenge Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of Brexit with the phrase “chuck chequers,” and Mrs May’s dance on stage to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” followed by a speech which exceeded everyone’s expectations. In the speech, she warned that failure to back her Chequer’s deal – although she did not call it that directly – could result in a no-deal or a Corbyn Government. She also said that the end to austerity is in sight, although this has since been challenged as “not credible” and uncosted by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who highlighted that most public services are currently facing deficits worth billions of pounds.
Also at Conference, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to tackle serious crime, the most reported of which was a crackdown on middle class cocaine users. He also announced a consultation on a new legal duty to underpin a “public health” approach to tackling serious violence, which has been adopted with much success in Glasgow and recently announced as policy in London; and a new £200 million youth endowment fund to build evidence for early intervention.
Police take action against Home Secretary for insufficient pay rise
In what has been reported both in The Times and on Sky News, the Police Federation of England and Wales has announced that it will launch a legal challenge to the Home Office’s failure to implement the recommendations of the Independent Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB). The PRRB, established to make “evidence-based recommendations on police pay” recommended a 3% salary increase for all Home Office Police, but the Home Office offered a “derisory 2%” from 1st September this year.
The Federation, representing 120,000 rank-and-file police, has started judicial review proceedings against the Home Secretary Sajid Javid. When announcing the 2% rise, Javid called it the highest consolidated pay award since 2010 but it subsequently became apparent that he had strongly supported implementing the PRRB’s recommendations but was blocked by his seniors. At the time, Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick called the failure by the Home Office to implement the recommendations a “punch in the nose”.
Police Federation Chair, John Apter, said that the Home Office had “cheated police officers out of the pay increase they should receive” for the second successive year as he demanded police officers be treated fairly.
This is a very rare move by the Police Federation, and it will set a precedent that will greatly impact other public sectors workers. We will continue to monitor the situation and update DPF accordingly.
Defence Secretary vows to protect Britain’s landing ships
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed the Conservative Party Conference this week committing to protect the Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, which had been reported earlier in the year as being vulnerable to efficiency savings. He also unveiled plans for a new cyber cadets scheme that will train 2,000 officers in protecting the country from increasingly sophisticated online threats. He also announced that the military would maintain a presence in Germany.
Mr Williamson referenced the Modernising Defence Programme once during the speech. The Programme, which Mr Williamson separated out from the security review in the hopes of establishing more funding for defence, was due in the summer but is yet to be published. It is set to clarify the renewed priorities of the MoD, but such a refresh is likely to require more money as the MoD is currently facing a £20 billion funding deficit over the next 10 years. Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is a former Defence Secretary with little belief in the need to bolster up the Armed Forces, is reluctant to invest in public services as a known champion of austerity and reducing the national deficit.
The Defence Secretary is relying on a funding increase for the MoD in order to manage the current and future demands put on the MoD, and also for his personal integrity and career progression. He is widely considered to be vying for the top spot in the Conservative Party and needs to be seen to succeed in his current brief. The MoD’s funding deficit is also one of the biggest in Government, impacted by what military chiefs have called the “unrealistic” costing of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, and the decrease in the value of the pound following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Murdered unarmed police officer “failed by Met”
The Chief Coroner leading the three-week inquest into the murder of the unarmed PC Keith Palmer during the terrorist attack on Westminster last year has said that the death was preventable, The BBC has reported. Judge Mark Lucraft QC has said that there was a “lack of supervision” by armed officers at the scene and that the Metropolitan Police might have a case to answer. He said: “Before the attack armed officers had not been in close proximity as they understood their duty was for a roving patrol; in fact tactical advice suggested that they should be near the gates,” however, “the armed officers were not aware of a requirement to remain in close proximity to the gates” and said that had they been there, they would have been in a position to save PC Palmer.
The coroner praised the families of the five victims of the attack for their dignity and concluded that all were unlawfully killed. He spoke of the actions by civilians that saved others’ lives, and the “quite overwhelming” response from medics at St Thomas’ Hospital.
PC Palmer’s widow welcomed the report which commended him as brave and said that he “was left at a vulnerable location with no protection to die.” She added: “Nobody wants to take responsibility for leaving one of their own officers there unprotected when they knew that police officers were at risk of attack at this vulnerable location. What makes it even worse is that this lax security had been carrying on for years and it has taken what happened to Keith for things to change. They let Keith down by failing to protect him and let us down by failing to investigate his death properly.”
Police prepare for Brexit disruption
Police Scotland has announced that it is preparing for civil disruption caused by post-Brexit shortages in food and medicines, The Heraldhas reported. The Force is also preparing to potentially help other forces to protect the country’s borders in Northern Ireland and Dover, as well as sea and airports. Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has said that while he does not have exact clarity on the cost of policing Brexit, he has been informed that HM Treasury “has developed a contingency fund for the potential cost of a no-deal Brexit or a contested Brexit arrangement.”
This comes in the wake of the UK Government announcing that it has appointed a Minister for Food Supplies for the first time since World War II. MP for Macclesfield David Rutley, a former Asda and PepsiCo executive, is taking up the role. Scotland’s First Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said that the appointment highlights the “shambolic” handling of Brexit.