Senior police officers are facing the prospect of having their ability to comment on government policy constrained.
New plans are being drawn up by Home Secretary Priti Patel who is concerned about officers, especially senior ones, commenting on politics. She has instructed officials to work on ways to draw “a brighter line” between policing and policymaking.
While Ms Patel’s says she does not want to stop police officers voicing opinions, she believes it is too often unclear that the government sets policy, not the police. The plans are set to be included in a consultation on updates to the Policing Protocol Order of 2011, which will be launched by ministers later this year.
Introduced by Theresa May when she was home secretary the protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities of those involved in policing, such as police and crime commissioners, chief constables and police and crime panels.
Another segment of the reforms will see Ms Patel produce a formal definition of “operational independence” because she believes that some officers use the doctrine to avoid scrutiny.
It’s no secret a number of senior police officers believe the Home Secretary, who was dubbed “Pushy Patel” by some last year, is encroaching on their independence. Patel has gone further than her predecessors in rebuking chief constables over their approach to policing protests last year, and has repeatedly urged them to crack down on coronavirus rule breakers.