Priti Patel is the Home Secretary. This is an extract of her speech to the Police Superintendents’ Association.
IN MY SIX weeks as your Home Secretary I have been humbled by those I have met, the experiences that have been shared with me and naturally the values that are very unique to the police family.
That’s why I have personally accelerated work to establish the Police Covenant. This is a pledge to do more as a nation to help those who serve our country. And importantly to ensure our pride in the police pays off in practice.
The Yorkshire Post says: MPs agree to protect the protectors despite Justice Minister To recognise the bravery, commitment, and sacrifices of serving and former officers.
Have no doubt, I am prepared to be bold to protect you – to care and value you. And I will not flinch from enshrining this new protection for the police in law if that’s what it takes.
So I can reveal I plan to focus work on the Covenant in three areas where you need it most – your health and wellbeing; your physical protection; and support for your families.
First, I want to ensure you, and your officers, are fit and well – in mind and in body.
I’ve seen the constant risk of injury you face and the emotional pressure you’re under. The Frontline Review showed the dire need to boost both your physical and mental health. We’ve already launched the National Police Wellbeing Service to improve support. But it can be a postcode lottery, and the care provided remains patchy.
So I will work with the Service to accelerate the creation of new standards for occupational health provision across all forces.
This will ensure you receive the support you need when you need it – and not weeks or months later.
We also need to think big, so I’m working with the Health Secretary to urgently explore the best ways for you to access the support you need.
However much NHS staff want to help, they may not always understand just what you’ve been through and the type of help and support that you need.
We will learn from the Armed Forces Covenant to explore exactly how we can meet those needs.
Secondly, I’m making the physical protection of officers my top priority. Of course, this means giving you the kit you need to stay safe. But protecting officers is not just about equipment. The utterly appalling rise in the attacks shows that we need a strong deterrent to make these thugs think twice.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers Act was a start, but in its first six weeks only one in four people convicted of the new offence were jailed – and the average sentence was just over two months. I know the strength of these punishments is a matter of concern for you all, and I share these concerns.
The epidemic of attacks demands urgent action, so I’m working with the Lord Chancellor to ensure they are handled with appropriate severity by the whole criminal justice system.
Sentences must be sufficient. So together we are urging the Sentencing Council to put attacks on officers at the forefront of their review of sentencing guidelines.
To cut crime we need to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, and the courts have an important role to play in doing that.
We must work together to make sure anyone who assaults an officer gets a sentence that truly fits the crime.
Both you – and the hard-working, law- abiding majority we all serve – deserve to see justice done.
And that means bringing the full force of the law down on these monsters who prey on our police.
And of course, when it comes to the people that matter to us the most – our families – we must do more to support those torn apart when officers are hurt or killed in the line of duty.
We cannot heal their heartbreak, but we can do everything in our power to support them, stand with them, and show the huge value we place on their fallen loved ones.
I am urgently exploring what more we can do to support and help families when they need it most.
We will consult with police staff associations to understand what we can do to improve the care and support provided to grieving widows, husbands, partners and parents, and for the children who will grow up without a parent.
I want to understand what it will take to make a difference – and then have a plan to deliver just that.