Police are focusing on tackling crime, not taking the knee, claims Rishi Sunak
GB News: Rishi Sunak on policing
Rishi Sunak has downplayed claims that police officers are spending too much time dealing with woke issues and not enough time tackling crime.
Speaking to broadcasters this afternoon, the PM said both he and the public expect officers to be focusing on catching and locking up criminals, but that the police he’d met with today “are keen to deliver” just that.
The questioning came after Met police chief Sir Mark Rowley set out a new approach which means officers won’t be allowed to express support for “woke” causes, such as gay pride or taking the knee for Black Lives Matter.
Sir Mark has said the only acceptable additions to police uniforms are remembrance poppies, Help for Heroes wristbands and the police ‘thin blue line’ memorial badge.
His comments signalled a much tougher stance than his predecessor Dame Cressida Dick, who allowed officers to take the knee while policing BLM protests, and who oversaw officers dancing with extremist climate activists.
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Sir Mark said getting drawn in to political causes, even supposedly popular ones like gay rights, could be “fatal” for policing.
He told the Telegraph: “Wearing a poppy in the autumn is perfectly proper, but there is not a lot that we should align to because the danger is that once you say, ‘we are going to align ourselves to a cause because 90 percent of the population support it’, what about the 10 percent?’
“Once you start having environmental and other subjects there are lots of people in the organisation who will personally support those causes and that is OK, but the Metropolitan Police explicitly supporting them is quite tricky. I’m fairly narrow-minded on this. There are very few causes policing should be attached to.”
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Mr Sunak made the comments while visiting a police force alongside the Government’s new crackdown on so-called “Zombie knives” – deadly machetes whose manufacturers have been dodging current laws.
He reiterated: “Police officers like the ones I’ve spoken to today are focussing on catching criminals, whether that’s tackling people who are committing thefts and burglaries, whether that’s people who are doing antisocial behaviour, or indeed whether it’s serious violence like knife crime.
“That’s why we’ve announced new laws today that will give the police more power to tackle knife crime, which we are reducing but of course we need to do more because it’s an awful crime.”
Sellers of “zombie” knives will now face two years in jail, as knives with no practical purpose but are designed to look threatening will become illegal to sell or own.
The Home Office has also said that a new criminal offence of possessing bladed weapons with intent to endanger life or intimidate people will be created.
While serrated zombie knives were legislated against in 2016, the law only covered weapons with threatening words or images on the blade or handle, meaning manufacturers of the deadly weapons were able to take the words or images off and continue selling them.
Knife crime is up 34 percent on 2010, and accounts for 39 percent of homicides.
Police will also be given powers to seize weapons from people’s homes if they have reasonable grounds to believe they will be used in a serious crime, a power officers previously did not have.
Policing minister Chris Philip said: “Zombie-style knives and machetes serve no other purpose but to inflate criminal egos and endanger lives. There is no reason to own these types of weapons. That is why we are banning these knives and making sentencing more severe, so our communities can be reassured that this violent criminality will face the punishments they deserve”.
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