Police should “not stand around posing for photos” with chaos-causing protesters and instead focus on arresting them, the Home Secretary has said.
Suella Braverman said she wanted to send a “clear message” to police forces that there “should be no politically-correct distractions” when it comes to enforcing the law at disruptive demonstrations.
It comes after the UK Government’s Public Order Bill faced a bruising time in the House of Lords this week, with ministers suffering a series of defeats on its controversial legislation.
The draft legislation is aimed at curbing the guerrilla protest tactics used by groups such as Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, which have included blocking roads, to the growing frustration of motorists.
The Home Secretary on Wednesday said part of her direction to police chiefs has been to focus on attending to community crime, including burglaries, rather than “non-crime hate incidents”.
In an article for the Conservative Home website, the Cabinet minister said: “Since I became Home Secretary, I have secured a commitment from all forces to attend every residential burglary, introduced legislation for tackling disruptive protests and worked hard to improve police efficiency.
“This, rather than non-crime hate incidents, is what police should focus on.
“I have backed the use of stop and search to tackle violent crime and we are bringing in serious violence disruption orders imminently.
Ms Braverman also said she was pushing for better vetting of police offers in the wake of the murder and rape of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, along with the recent uncovering of David Carrick, a sacked Metropolitan Police officer, as one of the country’s most prolific sex offenders.
The Conservative politician vowed a crackdown on “those who are not fit to wear the uniform”.
As well as promising an “overhaul” of the way police officers are recruited and vetted, she said it “needs to be easier to sack bad officers”.
Other plans for police reforms include removing the “pointless red tape” that makes it harder for non-degree educated people to secure police jobs, Ms Braverman said.
“Since 2021, police recruits have had to have a degree or to join as an apprentice while they earn a qualification. This is a mistake,” the Home Secretary added.