I proposed the ‘Give a Day to Policing’ scheme to the National Police Chiefs’ Council last year as a way for Parliamentarians to better understand the challenges currently facing our police forces across the UK.
As a former police officer myself, I know how difficult working on the frontline to protect our communities can be, and in my new role as a Member of Parliament, I felt it was important for my fellow MPs to step outside of Westminster and see this for themselves. We often hear and read about the challenging circumstances police can find themselves in, but seeing and experiencing this first hand gives you a real understanding of the immense pressures they come under.
Threats to public safety are not only increasing but becoming more and more complex. Police officers today aren’t just dealing with robberies, vehicle accidents, anti-social behaviour and hate crimes, but more complicated threats such as terrorism, cyber-attacks and human trafficking. Add to this eight years of cuts to frontline services and job losses across the public sector, and you can see why more and more people are turning to the police for support as other services are stripped back.
I recently spent a day back on the beat with Greater Manchester Police, giving me first hand insight into their day to day operations, and the difficulties these new threats pose to our officers. I was shocked at how much had changed since my time with GMP; a huge increase in the use of technology, fewer officers dealing with larger areas, and more multi-faceted crimes. It was immediately evident that officers today are under far more pressure than they were ten years ago. Yet whether working behind the scenes tackling cybercrime or out on the streets, officers are working hard at every level to keep our communities safe.
I hope that all MPs will take up the opportunity to ‘Give a Day to Policing’ as it offers an invaluable experience, leaving you with both a broader understanding of the new challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration for their bravery and commitment to public safety. I am also hopeful that this scheme may eventually be expanded out into other public services, giving MPs the chance to give a day to the NHS or the Fire Service.
Public sector workers are vital to our economy, our safety and our everyday existence. By spending a day in their shoes, we can better understand the challenges they face and better represent them in Parliament.