Named officers for victims of crime a ‘ridiculous gimmick’ – Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dismissed as a “ridiculous gimmick” a pledge by the Prime Minister to provide victims of crime with a named officer to call about their case.

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his new “beating crime plan” on Tuesday after leaving quarantine at his Chequers country retreat following a coronavirus contact.

And as he began his third year in No 10, Mr Johnson vowed to ensure that every victim of crime has “a named officer to call, someone who is immediately on your side”.

Writing in the Sunday Express, he said: “We need now to redouble our efforts, to continue to put more police out on the street, and to back them all the way.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Milton Keynes Police Station (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He also vowed to introduce reforms, writing that “we want everyone to know that if you are the victim of crime you have a named officer to call, someone who is immediately on your side”.

But speaking to LBC on Monday, Sir Keir said the proposals would not work.

Sir Keir said: “I’m all for improving the way victims are treated in our criminal justice system, I’ve been working on that for many, many years.”

But he said police officers would have too many cases on to be a single point of contact.

He said: “Of course have a system where victims get information, they’re consulted, they’re engaged.

“I’m absolutely in favour of that, I would actually put that in law.

“This is just a gimmick by the Prime Minister yet again, he loves soundbites, he loves slogans, he loves gimmicks.

“But every time you look beyond it, there’s nothing there.

“This one won’t work.

“It won’t improve… if anything it will make things worse because individual officers work shifts, they’re doing investigations, they’re off duty.

“It will actually slow things down.

“It’s an ill-thought-through gimmick.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sitting in the driver’s seat of a police vehicle during a visit to Northamptonshire Police Headquarters in Northampton (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It comes after Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation representing rank-and-file officers in the capital, criticised the “named officer” plan as unworkable.

He told the PA news agency: “If that officer is on a shift pattern or off sick or on holiday, that just puts added pressure on that officer.

“It doesn’t work in that way – you can’t start singularly naming officers because by the sheer nature of their work… if they’re not at work, what happens then?”

Other measures outlined by the Prime Minister included publishing league tables for 101 and 999 call-answering times, putting more police into dealing with “the tiny minority of truant kids”, and intensifying efforts against county lines drug gangs.

And he said he backed officers “all the way”.

However, Mr Marsh said: “Well he’s not backing us all the way is he, he’s treating us in a derisory way.”

He added: “And what do we get at the end of it?

“As usual, absolutely nothing.

“His words are hollow and my colleagues are fed up with it now.”

It comes after the Police Federation’s national chairman, John Apter, delivered a blow to Priti Patel on Thursday, as the body said it no longer has confidence in the Home Secretary after describing a bitterly opposed pay freeze as “the final straw”.

Sir Keir told LBC on Monday he was “not surprised” by the move.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (Victoria Jones/PA)

He said: “I think that government has let down the police over 10 years now.

“It’s all very well saying they’re recruiting more officers now but they stripped 21,000 out over the last 10 years.

“They are now gradually replacing some of those officers.

“They, police, have been through added challenges over the last 18 months.

“They’ve got no pay rise, and they feel very, very let down by our Home Secretary.

“So I think her position is untenable.”

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