Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 03rd September 2018

By DPF Admin7th September 2018August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates
  • Government plans to grant police increased stop and search powers
  • Russian nationals named as suspects in Salisbury poisoning
  • Government fails to agree police pay rise in Scotland 

Government plans to grant police increased stop and search powers

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced plans to give police more stop and search powers, in what The Times isinterpretingas “his latest challenge to Theresa May and her legacy as Home Secretary.” Javid has said that the Home Office will soon be consulting on whether to make changes to the “reasonable grounds” needed to legally justify searches and focus on acid, drones and laser pointers used to target aircraft, which are not encompassed by the current law. This would mark a considerable increase in powers the police have to stop and search. 

The rates of stop and search fell in England and Wales from a peak of 1.5 million in 2008-09 to just over 304,000 in 2016-17. This is largely because of analysis which found that young black men were seven times more likely than young white men to be stopped by police. Then-Home Secretary Theresa May subsequently placed restrictions on the scheme in 2014. 

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has expressed support for extending the powers and challenged criticism of the scheme saying: “We are using the power intelligently and targeting the right people.” The Police Federation and numerous politicians from across the parties in Westminster have questioned whether the police have sufficient resources to roll out any expansion of the scheme. 

These proposed new measures support the Violent Crime Strategy published by the Home Office shortly before the departure of Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd, which, among other things, created a new offence of possessing a corrosive substance. Based on discussion with Home Office officials we expect the consultation to be published in the coming days. 

Russian nationals named as suspects in Salisbury poisoning 

Two Russian nationals have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. The men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are thought to be officers from Russia's military intelligence service, the Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement to the House of Commons yesterday. Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service say there is enough evidence to charge the men. 

Speaking in the Commons, Theresa May said the government had concluded, from intelligence provided by UK agencies, that the men were part of the GRU intelligence service, the main military foreign-intelligence service of the Russian Federation. The House of Commons heard about how the targeting ofSkripal and Yulia, and subsequent poisoning of three others, was “not a rogue operation.” Pointing the finger at, though not directly naming, President Putin the Prime Minister said it was “almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state”. 

Jeremy Corbynwas accused by Boris Johnson of “weaselly language” after he stopped short of accusing the Russian state of involvement in the Salisbury attacks. Although it was better than giving Russia the benefit of the doubt, which dogged his response to Salisbury earlier in the year, and avoided giving his opponents – including those on his own side – further cause for criticism. It would have been better if he hadn't got confused and said, “we condemn the police and security services” before correcting it to “commend”. 

The perpetrators are unlikely of ever being brought to justice as they are now back in Russia, however,  Mrs May vowed to do “whatever is necessary to keep our people safe” which is likely to include a cyberwar against Russia's spy network. The decision to identify two named Russian individuals in the Skripal case as agents of the Military Intelligence Service – the GRU – is a significant development. It raises the level of evidence on which the UK government's charges are based and potentially gives added weight to calls for additional international sanctions against Moscow. This evidence will be presented to the UN Security Council later this week. 

Britain has already done quite a lot: back in March the PM expelled 23 Russian diplomats identified as undeclared Russian intelligence officers. In an extraordinary display of solidarity 28 other countries as well as NATO came together to expel over 150 Russian intelligence officers. “The largest collective expulsion ever,” May said. 

Government fails to agree police pay increase

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has announced that it has yet to receive confirmation on a pay increase putting the Scottish Executive and police authority’s commitment to officers in doubt. The Federation has blamed the Official Side (which is made up of the Government, Scottish Police Authority and chief constable) for not meeting the September 1 deadline for the 2018/19 pay award to take effect. Mr Steele said this “represents a flagrant lack of courtesy or consideration for the unwavering commitments of police officers all over Scotland”. He told members: “I appreciate your anger will be palpable and that such lack of action drives a coach and horses through any language professing ‘our people are our most valued resource’ or of ’integrity, fairness and respect’.  The Scottish Government was unable to provide a comment at the time of publication. 

Officers in England and Wales will receive a two per cent pay award from this month. However, they will only see an increase of one per cent on the previous month’s pay because part of the 2017/18 award was not consolidated and therefore ended in August.

The award went against the Police Remuneration Review Body’s recommendation to consolidate last year’s award into the 2018/19 settlement and is understood to have been decided by the Prime Minister against the advice of the Home Secretary. 

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