Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper with Assistant Chief Constable Paul White at Merseyside Police headquarters in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)
25 September 2022

Labour pledges 13,000 new officers in ‘return to neighbourhood policing’

25 September 2022

Labour will hire an extra 13,000 police officers if it wins the next election, the shadow home secretary has said.

Yvette Cooper said on Sunday that a Labour government would recruit more police officers, PCSOs and special constables in an effort to cut crime and restore confidence in the police.

She told a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool that the party would also bring back the last Labour government’s focus on neighbourhood policing.

Ms Cooper said: “We are announcing this week that we have got to return to neighbourhood policing. We have seen the clock hugely turned back on the policing in our communities that Labour brought in.”

Recruiting an extra 20,000 police officers was a key part of the Conservatives’ election-winning manifesto in 2019, reversing cuts to police numbers since 2010.

But police and crime commissioners have claimed that they still do not have the numbers they did in 2010, while warning that some new officers would be doing jobs previously done by police staff, whose numbers have also fallen.

Ms Cooper said focusing on neighbourhood policing was “about both expanding policing in our communities, but it’s also a reform because it’s about the way in which we police, if you’ve got police embedded in those communities, providing intelligence and working together”.

She said bringing police officers into communities was “incredibly important in terms of prevention, in terms of preventing people being drawn into crime, in terms of keeping people safe and in terms of following-up”.

She criticised the Government for a “lack of leadership” and “laissez-faire approach” to policing that had left people believing that “the police won’t be there”.

She added that confidence had also been undermined by scandals including misogynist messages sent by officers at Charing Cross police station and the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.

Sarah Jones, shadow policing minister, told the same event that a Labour government would overhaul police standards, including officers’ social media use.

She said: “It’s for us to make sure that those brilliant police officers, which is the majority of our police officers, are not being dragged down by those few who are not expressing the cultures and the behaviours that we would expect of them.”

Ms Jones said Labour would speed up police misconduct proceedings and introduce compulsory training on subjects such as violence against women and girls and racism.

She also rejected as “for the birds” recent claims by Home Secretary Suella Braverman that the police were spending too much time on “symbolic gestures”, pointing instead to the amount of time officers spent dealing with mental health crises and other non-policing matters.

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