‘Policing in crisis’: Ex-home secretaries back bill enabling convicted officers to be sacked


Six former home secretaries have called on Suella Braverman to toughen up the rules around police conduct and dismissal, warning “trust and confidence” in forces had been “significantly eroded” and needed rebuilding.

Labour’s ex-ministers Lord Blunkett, Alan Johnson, Lord Reid and Jack Straw were joined by Conservatives Lord Howard and Lord Baker in writing to the current home secretary, demanding parliamentary time for a new bill they are backing.

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The proposals – put forward by senior Labour backbencher Harriet Harman – would see officers automatically dismissed if convicted of a serious criminal offence, automatically suspended if charged with a serious criminal offence, and automatically dismissed if they fail vetting.

Other measures in the bill would allow chief constables to re-open misconduct investigations, introduce a “duty of candour” requiring officers to proactively report any wrongdoing, and strengthen the rules to see convicted officers lose their pension.

It comes after a number of high profile cases committed by serving police officers, including the murder of Sarah Everard, led to growing calls for tougher rules.

The Met Police commissioner in January revealed two to three criminal cases against officers were expected to go to court every week in the following months.

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A review into the vetting of prospective police officers was commissioned after the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving Met Police officer, last year.

In the letter, seen by Sky News, the senior politicians said: “Trust and confidence are the cornerstones of our model of policing by consent, yet they have been significantly eroded in recent years.

“Whilst a number of high-profile cases coming out of the Metropolitan Police have understandably shattered the confidence of Londoners, we know that these issues are not confined to one force.

“Policing across the country is in crisis and these national challenges require national solutions.”

Seen as ‘common sense’ by public

The former ministers said the bill had cross-party support and the “robust” measures would “enable significant reform, improve standards and help to rebuild public trust”.

And they said the bill would be seen as “common sense” by the public, adding: “Many people would be surprised to learn that the bill’s measures aren’t already the law.

“The public deserves to have full confidence in the officers who have been tasked with upholding the law and keeping them safe. This bill would help take us a big step towards achieving that.”

Sky News has contacted the Home Office for a response.