Thank you, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here this morning.
Let me start by thanking you all.
As we approach the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, I’d would like to say a really big, special thank you to all those standing down for your service.
In my first six months as your Home Secretary, I’ve been unequivocal in my support for policing.
Since taking this job, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Katy [Bourne, Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners] and Martin [Hewitt, Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council], and many of you here today.
I’ve seen first-hand that tireless courage, commitment and sacrifice of your officers.
I’ve seen them crack down on county lines drugs gangs. The individuals that exploit and enslave children and prey on the vulnerable.
It is so extraordinary, whether it is in Liverpool, North Wales, the Midlands, Essex, Kent, London – whichever part of the country I have been to just to see the sheer dedication and the commitment of our officers to go after those who seek to do harm.
I have seen that with officers saving lives after the Fishmongers’ Hall event, the Streatham terror attacks, and the safeguarding of victims of domestic abuse.
And I am immensely proud of our brave front line officers.
They are inspirational leaders in the communities they are serving
And I think I can say this with a great deal of pride – they way in which they work together on behalf of the community is something we can all be proud of.
I’ve been honoured to stand with you to drive forward positive change for policing.
Turning the Page
This is an ambitious and dynamic new government with law and order at its heart and we make no apologies for that.
Our mission is clear – to deliver on the people’s priorities: to cut crime and deliver the safer streets the public want.
A mission I know you all share, but that in recent years has not always been easy.
You deserve the full respect of the people you tirelessly serve for the incredible job you do in exceptional circumstances…
…and the British public deserve the freedom to live their lives without fear of violent criminals, terrorists and drug dealers.
That’s why I’ve made it my priority to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system.
Because sadly, as has crime evolved and become more complex, this has had a knock-on effect on the criminal justice system.
And the public’s frustration has grown when it comes to crime.
Because it’s not just terrorists and murderers – the individuals who want to destroy our values or disrupt our way of life.
Thankfully, most people are never exposed to that horror. But their lives can still be blighted by crime.
That is crime that is across our communities and on our streets.
The burglaries, shoplifting and muggings that impact on daily life.
It puts people’s homes and peoples businesses at risk, and under attack.
And that causes huge harm, distress and disruption to towns and communities. This is something we must address.
And it is a fact that overtime officers have become over-stretched. People no longer saw police on the streets, or responding to the offences affecting them.
In 2018/19 only 16% said that bobbies on the beat were highly visible in their area – less than half the figure in 2009/10.
Almost half said they had never seen a foot patrol in their area. Not once.
Earlier this month, HMICFRS highlighted that the proportion of offences resulting in a charge in 2018/19 was under 8%, almost half the 2014/15 total.
And as we know, HM Inspector Matt Parr recently warned that people had “rumbled” the failure of the police to investigate mass crimes like car thefts, assaults and burglaries.
You don’t need me to tell you – these are the very crimes that blight peoples lives and blight our communities.
So it is important that we all now work together to turn a page and we work together to beat that kind of crime across all communities.
And by working together we can tackle the low level offenders before they graduate to carrying knives and weapons and participating in serious crimes.
From being shop thieves to knife carriers to carrying knives and weapons and participating in serious crimes.
And with that we need to investigate every type of every crime with the rigour that people expect.
I know that’s what you want too, I’ve seen first-hand how you are driven by public duty.
You want to protect the people and cut crime and serve our people, towns and communities – that’s why you do this truly remarkable job.
And why, as PCCs, you hold your local force to account to deliver what your areas need.
Together we can lengthen the long arm of the law to ensure no criminal can escape – and that the public can have trust in policing. This is trust that they deserve, and it is a trust that you deserve too.
What we’ve done
As Home Secretary, my door has been open to policing, and I have listened not only to what you need, but the way in which policing needs to change and how we can respond.
You told me you needed more boots on the ground and I delivered – with the recruitment of an unprecedented 20,000 additional officers over three years.
You told me you needed more resources in policing – that is why we have delivered the biggest increase in police funding for a decade.
You told me you needed the right powers to protect our streets and the public and we delivered on that by simplifying the rules around emergency stop and search.
You told me you needed more support for officers and I delivered – pledging to enshrine our new Police Covenant in law to give officers and their families the help you all deserve.
You told me your brave officers needed more protection and I am promising to introduce an enhanced Police Protection and Powers Bill and to consult on doubling sentences for assaults on officers.
You told me you needed swifter resolution of complaints and I am delivering on changing the rules so Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations don’t drag on, meaning lessons can be quickly learnt and officers’ lives are not put on hold and they can go back to doing the job they love.
I am unequivocal in my support to you. But now we need to pull out all the stops to deliver the decline in crime that the public want to see.
We know you can’t do this on your own, so urgent work is underway across government.
I agree with everything I have heard from the front line, but also from Martin and Katy and others that the whole criminal justice system must be able to respond to the uplift in demand from 20,000 new officers.
That’s why we’re setting up a new Royal Commission to review the effectiveness of the criminal justice system – looking at ways to slash bureaucracy and boost public confidence.
It’s why the Home Office now has two joint ministers with the Ministry of Justice.
The Prime Minister and I are driving a united government response with a new cross-Whitehall Crime and Justice Taskforce to ensure we use every lever at our disposal to fight crime.
I will press other government departments and other services to do more so your officers aren’t forced to become makeshift health or social workers and are free to get on with the job of cutting crime.
We will look closely at the findings of the independent SOC Review to see what capabilities you need to fight evolving crimes like fraud.
And we’re looking for more ways to prevent crime in the first place, by designing it out and adopting a public health approach, as we are doing through the Safer Streets Fund and Violence Reduction Units.
Crime will not go away overnight, so we are making a long-term investment in our exceptional police.
I’m still listening to what you need. So today I’m pleased to announce an additional £41.5 million surge funding to help 18 forces drive down the scale of the violent crime we are seeing in our streets.
But also, while we invest in policing, it is also vital that we invest in you. And that is why I am committed to the welfare of our police office.
So, I will continue to do all I can to ensure the unique challenges you face are recognised and that you get the support you so richly deserve.
Starting today, we are launching our Police Covenant consultation.
I want your views on our plans to boost physical protection, wellbeing, and support for families of our brave officers.
This Covenant is a commitment to you and your exceptional officers who exemplify the very best of public service.
I encourage everyone to contribute to this consultation.
And it is important that we understand not just what you need, but also what works for you, because we intend to enshrine it in law.
Return on investment
My door will remain open and I will continue working with you to give you what you need.
But now, together, we absolutely must deliver on what the people want: safer streets, safer neighbourhoods and the safer communities they yearn.
I am proud to empower you, but I will also be unafraid to challenge you to do more when it comes to serving our communities.
To make your forces more efficient and productive – continuing to drive savings in back-office spend and making best use of data and new technology to free up officer time.
To deliver true value for public money.
Because this extra injection of taxpayers’ cash, that we are putting in again and again, must deliver the crime cuts that they so desperately need.
In three years’ time, when the 20,000 additional officers are through the door, the people will want to see a difference.
Less crime. Safer streets. No excuses.
The public won’t accept excuses, and neither should we.
So today, I want to set out my plan for us to work together to make our world-class service even better.
First and foremost, we must focus on our core job of cutting crime.
We all agree that the police should be free to police.
That police leaders should be visionary crime fighters, not pen pushers and not managers – that’s why you joined up in the first place.
As warranted officers your primary focus must be on pursuing and tackling offenders.
Stopping serious violence, car crime and theft.
But I want to support you as well by ensuring we can release you from unnecessary bureaucracy and to stop your officers being diverted so they can get on with the job.
In return, I ask that you concentrate on what matters most – cutting crime and protecting the people we serve.
Secondly, we must deliver on public expectations.
Operational independence is crucial, but so is ensuring every single force plays their part to the max.
This government is prioritising cutting crime, and we’re providing the central vision and challenge to make this happen.
Through the National Policing Board and the new Crime and Policing Performance Board, I will set expectations so that we can get the accountability in policing but also so we can drive national policing outcomes that are focused on reducing crime and delivering for the public.
As PCCs, you remain locally accountable and set priorities for your areas and that is an important role you all have.
But these new outcomes provide national accountability and collective responsibility so that all our communities feel safe.
We’re setting out quite a challenge to start with: to reduce murder, serious violence and neighbourhood crime.
And the policing board is working assiduously to ensure we work together in achieving this.
Also to improve victim satisfaction, to help those whose lives are torn apart by domestic abuse, and the relentless focus to roll up county lines.
This is an ambitious list, yes, but no more than the public expect – and I’m pleased to have your support on this.
I’ve seen first-hand your impressive crackdown on county lines, with forces and agencies uniting to protect the child victims and bear down on the brutal drug gangs exploiting them, I know you have the agility and vision to deliver.
There must be no weak spots.
So, these outcomes will be non-negotiable, and I will be unapologetic about holding you to account.
You sit at the very top of policing and it is your job to work with us all to help drive crime down.
Dynamic, innovative and inspiring police leadership is essential and there’s tonnes of that in this room.
But, to deliver more, we must ensure policing better reflects the people and communities you serve.
So, finally, I want to see greater diversity of leadership throughout our police.
We must work together to create a true meritocracy where the very best people from every walk of life joins and progresses through the ranks.
We need a cultural shift and I want to see a cultural shift across policing. Breaking down barriers to recruitment, retention and development.
Making sure that we retain the best, and also train people to be the best.
We must harness this unprecedented opportunity now with the uplift of 20,000 new officers, to create a truly representative police force that reflects the society we serve.
When I look round this room in years to come – as the 20,000 rise up the ranks – we all want to see visible change.
Since becoming Home Secretary, I am unapologetic for working flat out to empower you and support our brilliant officers and PCCs, and I won’t stop now.
We’ve already achieved a great deal together, but while crime continues to blight our communities, towns and villages, there is very much more to do.
So my message today is very clear and simple.
Let’s work together – let’s continue to work together as partners – to deliver outcomes and support the public when it comes to boosting their confidence in policing and law enforcement.
Only then when we cut crime, protect victims, we can tell the British public that their streets are safer, that we are absolutely backing them, and we are on their side.