Officers need to turn up to more crimes - and the idea of a police state in the UK is ‘nonsense,’ says police watchdog

29 June 2023, 09:14 | Updated: 29 June 2023, 09:19

Matt Parr, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, is stepping down at the end of this month
Matt Parr, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, is stepping down at the end of this month. Picture: Getty/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

It is "nonsense" to suggest laws that make it easier for police forces to arrest protestors who cause significant disruption to the public make the UK a "police state", the police watchdog has said.

His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Matt Parr, said nobody wants to "ban all protest in this country" and that "everybody recognises the right to protest".

The UK's new Public Order Bill made a number of changes to protest laws, including making locking-on or being equipped for locking-on a criminal offence.

Police have also been given stronger powers to prevent "significant impact on persons or serious disruption to the activities of an organisation by noise".

Mr Parr argued that "a balance has to be struck between the protestors and the people who aren't protesting", which has not been taking place for several years.

"Public tolerance for this is pretty low. There’s a bunch of people who are very committed to it and I respect them and that’s great," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"But in general, the public have not got a lot of tolerance for the level of disruption."

Read More: 'Not much more can be learnt' from Stephen Lawrence case, says police watchdog

His Majesty's Inspector Matt Parr speaks to Nick Ferrari

Mr Parr, who will step down from his role at the month, also said that police chiefs have "woken up" to the fact that public trust in policing is low.

"They’ve got to stop taking it for granted," he said.

The police watchdog added that forces across the UK need to get three things right if they are to restore trust - and that includes turning up to more crimes.

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Mr Parr went on: "They need to get rid of the people that shouldn’t be in there and I think they need to convince the public on a whole host of other things that their priorities are the same as the publics.

"Unless they get all three of those things, it’s going to be a long way back to get public faith in policing…I think they’ve smelt the coffee."

The Metropolitan Police was put into special measures last year
The Metropolitan Police was put into special measures last year. Picture: Getty

Last year, the Metropolitan Police in London was placed in special measures after a review found "systemic" failings in fighting crime and looking after victims.

According to Mr Parr, it's going to be "a long road back" before the Met is taken out of special measures as they often "get the basics wrong".

"Everyone knows that the Met is facing serious problems," he said.

Read More: Next Met chief must 'get it' after force placed under special measures, Sadiq Khan says

"I think there's been a huge focus on aspects of bad behaviour - be it misogynistic, be it racist, be it homophobic - these have had a lot of attention and they at least part of the met being placed in special measures.

"I think more importantly there are lots of other aspects of the Met's performance and where its standards are that need to rise before we can get to that stage."

Pressed on what they are, he continued: "I think in some cases they get the basics wrong. Basics of investigation, basics of dealing with the public aren't where they need to be.

"I'm nervous of generalising but too often they get these wrong and they clearly get it right. A lot of the things the Met do are fabulous.

"When it's at its best, it's the most powerful, it's the most experienced, it's the most effective police force in the country."

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