Thanks to recent problems there have been many lately tempted to criticise the police. Yes, one or two stories about the behaviour of certain officers may not show the force in a great light, but that does not reflect on the excellent work of the 99.99% of all police officers.
All my personal experiences, both as a criminal barrister, and as an MP, have shown me that the police are very straight, honest, and hard working, in often very difficult circumstances.
Police Officers continue to have an excellent reputation, both locally in the Northumbria area, and nationally. They continue to enjoy the trust, support, and respect of the public and politicians alike.
Northumbria Police under the stewardship of Chief Constable Sue Sim do an excellent job. They have absorbed a reduction in budget, yet continued to cut crime. They are doing more for less. They deserve our praise.
When I regularly meet with local officers, whether on the beat, in surgeries, or knocking on doors, or with senior officers at Force Headquarters in Ponteland, I find them helpful and hardworking public servants.
The Police Federation has also came in for some criticism lately because of the way some of its members acted during in the aftermath of the Andrew Mitchell affair. Again that is not my experience locally. I regularly meet with the Police Federation officers both formally and informally to hear officers concerns. Indeed 3 of the Federation Reps sat down with me for nearly 2 hours in the House of Commons less than 5 weeks ago, and I have another meeting upcoming with other reps in January in Northumberland. The media sometimes make things out as if there are factions in Whitehall for or against any particular organisation. That is not the case in my experience.
In relation to the police I am not surprised that some officers are upset that their pensions and expectations of working life in the police are changing. Such upset is perfectly understandable. Teachers, doctors and the military are also upset. But that is the reality of the financial climate that we live in. There is simply not the public money to support the pay and pension packages that existed previously. We as a nation have spent too much, borrowed too much and delayed too long harsh and tough public spending decisions that have to be taken. I take no pleasure in it. These decisions are being taken by the Coalition government, but any government in power right now would have to take these decisions; and no party who wins the next election will change these decisions.
The only difference between me and Ed Miliband is I wish we had a money tree and he thinks we actually have one.
The police, like those in the NHS, are there when you need them most, often in the worst possible circumstances. They have my full support. I will not hear a word against them.