‘Profoundly Dangerous’: Priti Patel Slammed Over ‘Power Grab’ After Gov’t Redrafts Policing Protocol

© AP Photo / Justin Tallis/Pool Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel walks through the Central Lobby at the Palace of Westminster, during the State Opening of Parliament, in the Houses of Parliament, in London, Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel walks through the Central Lobby at the Palace of Westminster, during the State Opening of Parliament, in the Houses of Parliament, in London, Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.05.2022
The British government has repeatedly made it clear that updating the original version of the policing protocol, which was unveiled back in 2011 and came into force a year later, is a good idea.
UK police leaders have accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of trying to intervene in local law enforcement matters and silence those chiefs who want to speak out on “politically sensitive” issues.
The accusations come after the Home Office’s attempt to revise the policing protocol, which came into force back in January 2012. The document sets out how the government, chief constables (CCs) and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) should work together.
On Monday, the Guardian cited unnamed PCC sources as claiming that parts of the government’s plan to redraft the policing protocol are “profoundly dangerous” and a “power grab threatening operational independence”.
One of the sources argued that the protocol “expanded” the UK home secretary’s role beyond what is written in law.
Another insider asserted referring to Patel, “It was your party that gave these powers away, if they don’t like it, take it back with legislation through parliament. A lot of chiefs believe the way it is written now is ultra vires. They are angry”.
The sources claimed that the new version of the protocol tries to claw back power without parliamentary approval, accusing Patel and her officials of seeking to expand her “legitimate role in holding PCCs and CCs to account”.
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This was echoed by the UK’s Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, who said in their private response that “there is no formal statutory power for the home secretary to require the police and crime commissioner to give information […]."
“As such, any attempt to create a legal responsibility for police and crime commissioners to provide information to the home secretary through the protocol would be ultra vires”, the association pointed out.
An unnamed Home Office source, however, told The Guardian that police chiefs criticising the government’s news proposals on the protocol holds no water.
“It is not a power grab, it is not a threat to operational independence, but making clear whose job and whose responsibility things are in the policing world. Should it not be the home secretary’s role to ask questions?” the source argued.
The new draft protocol, a copy of which was seen by The Guardian, gives the home secretary the right to demand answers from chief constables, among other proposals.
“In order to ensure that the home secretary is equipped with the information required to respond to the public and parliament, PCCs and CCs should expect the home secretary to ask chief constables for information about policing matters”, the new version reportedly reads.
Additionally, the draft document reportedly indicates that the Home Office “proposes to lower the threshold for home secretary intervention in appropriate circumstances”. According to the new version, “This would equip the home secretary to intervene earlier as required, thus reducing the risk of failing to deliver effective policing.”
In the updated document’s foreword, the Home Office reassures that “the protocol cannot create new law, provide actors with powers they do not already have, or take away the discretion of any relevant body to use their existing powers”, according to The Guardian.
The Home Office then reportedly stresses that by updating the protocol, they “intend to bring greater clarity to the role of the home secretary in the policing landscape, as well as the role of chief constables, PCCs and police and crime panels”.
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