UK

Sajid Javid tells police: 'I'm listening'

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Media captionSajid Javid said he joined his brother on patrol, and witnessed teenagers racially abusing him

Sajid Javid has promised to ensure police officers have the resources they need and says he will make funding for frontline staff a priority.

In his first speech to the Police Federation, the home secretary, insisted "I'm listening and I get it".

Mr Javid also backed calls for spit hoods - mesh guards placed over suspects' heads - across all forces in England and Wales.

Labour said it was "nothing beyond platitudes" and that action was needed.

Mr Javid, whose brother is a chief superintendent in the West Midlands, acknowledged the pressure on forces due to a rise in violent crime and the changing terror threat.

He then promised a shift in priorities in a bid to better protect police officers in the next Home Office spending review.

Mr Javid said it was "ridiculous" the hoods were available to some police forces but not all, committing to do "everything in my [his] power" to change this.

Image copyright Hampshire Constabulary
Image caption Spit hoods or guards are designed to stop suspects biting or spitting at police

Asked whether the recent rise in violent crime had been the result of falling police numbers, he denied it being down to a "single driver" but admitted that without enough resources there would "clearly" be an impact.

He then pointed out that a decade ago violent crime had risen even though there was no pressure on resources.

Previous home secretaries have come under fire for cutting police budgets, but during his speech, Mr Javid said £1bn more was already being invested in policing compared to three years ago.

He leant his support to stop and search powers, saying: "Some of you don't feel comfortable using it - and that's not how it should be.

"I have confidence in your professional judgment. So let me be clear - I support the use of stop and search.

"You have to do your job and that means protecting everyone."

Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh rejected Mr Javid's claim he "gets it" saying the phrase demonstrates "denial" over the effects cuts have had.

"He claims he wants police to have the resources they need, but offers nothing beyond platitudes and the same inadequate funding settlement," she said.

"The time for talk has come and gone. The only way Sajid Javid can deliver a 'fresh start' is by putting an end to the Tories' dangerous cuts to our police."

Mr Javid became home secretary in April, after Amber Rudd resigned her position amid the Windrush revelations.

The federation, which represents rank and file officers across England and Wales, has previously shown home secretaries a frosty reception.

Laughs, real figures and appreciation

Analysis by BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw

Everything was different about this home secretary's speech to the federation.

Sajid Javid was applauded onto the stage, and off it. Federation members in the auditorium laughed at his jokes.

And, there appeared to be genuine appreciation for his supportive comments about the police service.

Unlike Theresa May, and to some extent Amber Rudd, the new home secretary didn't quibble about the crime figures, acknowledging that serious violence was on the rise. He accepted forces were over-stretched.

And he came close, the closest any government minister has come, to admitting that, in the phrase favoured by the federation, "cuts have consequences".

Later, in a short briefing with reporters, Mr Javid said his comments about resources were directed at future needs.

But there's no doubt that this 48-year-old brother of a police officer intended his speech to signal a break from the past, and in its tone and substance he managed to achieve it.

As of September there were 121,929 officers across the 43 forces, a fall of nearly 20,000 people compared to 10 years ago.

Police cuts have come under scrutiny after figures have shown an increase in knife and gun crime.

In London, 52 people were killed in the first 100 days of 2018, which raised serious concerns about a rise in violent crime.

Mr Javid insisted that he is "absolutely determined" to end the violence that is "terminating young lives far too soon".

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Media captionIn 2015 Theresa May told officers to stop "crying wolf"

Referring to his brother, Mr Javid added: "He's been hurt more times than I want to know from being assaulted on duty.

"I've seen the impact the job has on family life. And, as you would expect from a brother, he doesn't shield me from the truth."

He concluded: "For those of you who stand in the front line, be in no doubt that I will be standing with you."

'It's in the family'

Mr Javid said he wanted to "reset the relationship between government and the police".

He made much of his relationship with his brother, to emphasise a new level of understanding in the Home Office.

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Media captionSajid Javid's childhood 'gang' story drew laughs from delegates

He told delegates: "You might be thinking 'you're not one of us', as no home secretary has ever served as a police officer". But, he said, he was the first home secretary with a police officer in his immediate family.

After the speech the federation's chair, Calum Macleod, welcomed the change in pace from the home secretary but added "words are one thing, delivery is something else".

"We have to be able to hold him to account, we have to work with the Home Office and with the government to ensure positive changes for our membership and for the public are achieved, and that needs to start today."

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Media caption"Victims are being put at risk when there are not enough Police officers to attend" says Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary

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