PM takes on 'woke' policing after telling cops to 'fight crime, not bad jokes on Twitter'

31 October 2022, 08:04 | Updated: 31 October 2022, 10:20

Sunak has taken aim at woke policing
Sunak has taken aim at woke policing. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

"Woke" cops are in Rishi Sunak's sights as the new Prime Minister looks to ramp up the fight against crime.

Ministers are interested by Greater Manchester Police's turnaround, when Chief Constable Stephen Watson transformed the force with a "back-to-basics" approach as he warned public patience with "woke" policing was reaching its limit.

His leadership saw the force leave special measures in 18 months.

It follows criticism at cops in Lincolnshire who danced the Macarena at a Pride event and, previously, at officers who took the knee in solidarity with anti-racism demonstrations while they were policing the event.

Government sources told The Telegraph that the PM will make crime one of his three main priorities during November's Autumn Statement.

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A source said: "We want to get officers on to the front line doing what they are supposed to do which is preventing and solving crime.

"The chief constable of Greater Manchester has done a great job on that. We want to see what Greater Manchester have done replicated across other forces."

And speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Monday, Ch Con Watson said: "People very quickly agree that doing the basics well is a very good idea… the basics from our perspective is really basic, it's picking up the phone quickly, making accurate records of what people tell us, getting to them quickly, listening to their issues, investigating crime, arresting people, looking after victims and particularly vulnerable victims, and doing all of this in a way which ideally prevents crime occurring in the first place does it with a style and a vigour that allows the public to place upon us the very trust they want to place upon us."

GMP Chief Constable explains what he sees as 'back to basics' policing

Asked if his force polices bad jokes on Twitter, he said: "We try not to. It does seem to me there is a role on occasion to police what goes on in cyberspace but predominantly, frankly, people using cyber means of committing fraud and the like.

"There is of course occasions where people might be using the medium to harass a particularly vulnerable person and we have to be live to that.

"But to the extent that public discourse is tortuous are the moment, people are arguing their causes with such venom, 'you're either with me or you're an idiot' seems to be the vernacular, into that space people frequently use beastly words, one to the other.

"My view is that is life in a vigorous democracy and if you don’t like it you really need to get off Twitter. It's not fair to the wider public that the police are spending huge resources in policing people who frankly are entering into what might be described as playground banter. They really ought to just grow up and sort themselves out."

Mr Sunak said during his leadership campaign that police should be focused on fighting crime, not "policing bad jokes on Twitter".

Dominic Raab, the reinstated deputy prime minister and justice secretary, is overseeing a bid to pass a Victims' Bill into law as part of the anti-crime push.

In August, a report by a former Metropolitan Police DCI said a "back to basics" approach was needed, with officers discouraged from acts that are meant to show solidarity for a cause.

David Spencer said: "Even the perception that an officer's decision-making, such as whether to arrest someone, might be influenced by a partisan political view has the potential to be hugely damaging to public confidence."