Paul McKeever on the Lord Stevens Review

14:15 Wednesday 28th September 2011
BBC News 24

NORMAN SMITH: One of the other key speeches we had today was from the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, calling for a review of the police. And I’m joined now by Paul McKeever, the Chairman of the Police Federation. Do you support the idea of a review of the way the police operate?
PAUL MCKEEVER: Yes we do. We’ve been calling for a Royal Commission for many years now, well back into the last decade and before. And we were very pleased to hear that somebody is going to be carrying out an independent review. Lord Stevens is a highly respected man within the policing world, and he knows what he’s talking about. So it’s going to be interesting to see what he comes up with. Clearly there are going to be other people on the panel as well, looking at reviewing policing. Now we’re not against change at all. We’re not against reform in the police service. But what we are concerned about is the rapidity of that change at the moment, as are most people we speak to in the communities where we work, and the public we speak to.
NORMAN SMITH: Now you addressed Conference, and actually you suggested the scale of cuts facing many police budgets could be much more than the projected 20%.
PAUL MCKEEVER: Yes, If you look at Government’s own figures, they came up with 20% during the Comprehensive Spending Review last October. That’s based on an inflation rate of 2%. We’re now facing inflation of 5%. So that spending power of the police budget is going to reduce over the coming years. And that’s something you have to take into consideration. So taking that into account, the true cut is between 26 and 32%.
NORMAN SMITH: And one of the other areas you flagged up was this idea that has been floated of asking police officers to wear their uniforms when they go into work, to ensure there’s more of a uniformed presence in society. Now what’s wrong with that?
PAUL MCKEEVER: Well superficially it sounds a good idea. But when you actually start breaking it down, and looking at the reality, it shows that again, one, the Government appears to be desperate, trying to put people on the streets by saying you have to work in your own time effectively, and it also doesn’t recognise the sort of risk we face. This policy announcement was made on the day that the inquest started into the death of Raoul Moat in Northumbria, where a colleague of mine David Rathband was shot and blinded for wearing his uniform. That man went out to identify a uniformed police officer to shoot them. And here we are expected to go to work in a uniform, without the support of radios, without our protective equipment, and without the support of our colleagues. And it also doesn’t recognise the reality of the world that we live in. I have family who I might be dropping off at their work. I have children in the past I’d be taking to school as well. I’m prepared to put my life on the line for my community. I’ve done some pretty hair-raising things in the past. But to expect my family to be put in that situation as well shows you how out of touch this Government actually is when it comes to that sort of desperate policy they’re trying to promulgate.
NORMAN SMITH: OK. Paul McKeever .. thank you so much indeed. And I’m sure those words will be a huge comfort to Yvette Cooper. That review to be carried out by Lord Stevens, that will actually feed into Labour’s policy review. So future Labour policy on the police may well be shaped by the outcome of that review by Lord Stephens.