‘Police bashing and top resignations won’t win back the public’s trust’ says ex-Justice Secretary
The public’s trust in police must be regained after the murder of Sarah Everard – but it will not be achieved through ‘police-bashing’ or high-level resignations – former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said.
Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder by serving police officer Wayne Couzens has led to calls for Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to step down in light of the erosion of trust in the force.
But Mr Buckland defended the ‘vast majority’ of officers as ‘decent and dedicated people’.
Ex-Justice Secretary Robert Buckland says ‘police bashing’ won’t restore public trust
Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder by serving police officer Wayne Couzens has led to questions about vetting procedures in the Met Police
‘Police-bashing … is not going to restore that trust, and neither for that matter is the resignation of a police officer, however senior,’ Mr Buckland, who was Justice Secretary for two years until last month’s reshuffle, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.
The Welsh MP and former criminal barrister said police knew the need to maintain the highest standards and not tolerate inappropriate or unlawful behaviour within their ranks was ‘in their interest as much as it is in the public’s’.
He said as police numbers continued to rise towards targets is was important to note that ‘the aim is also to increase the speed and quality of police work’.
‘The public also needs to know that the police, who are civilians in uniform policing with our consent, are truly accountable for failure,’ he wrote.
‘While the operational independence of our police force is of central importance, it should never be used as a cloak against scrutiny. If trust is to be regained, then it has to be understood that to admit fault and failure should be seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.’
Mr Buckland also labelled as ‘repugnant’ last week’s contentious release of advice from police on how women might keep themselves safe if approached by a police officer.
He the notion that the burden for safety should rest on ‘our wives, partners, sisters, daughters and female friends’ further reduced trust in the force.
Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has faced calls to step down due to the erosion of trust in the force
But he said the Government and criminal justice agencies were working to rebuild the public’s faith, including providing better support and funding for victims of rape and sexual offences.
Mr Buckland also noted the Rape Review, which he published in June, contained ‘an action plan with not only a target to increase the number of rape prosecutions, but changes to the way in which files are put together, with more challenge and accountability as part of the process, all aimed at increasing confidence and trust’.
He said if anything positive could arise from the ‘horrific’ case of Ms Everard, it ‘has to be a police and criminal justice system that is more speedy, supportive, responsive and ready to admit