Diane Abbott Election 2017

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Diane Abbott

Recorded coverage of shadow home secretary Diane Abbott addressing the annual Police Federation Conference in Birmingham, from Tuesday 16 May.

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And we will be taking some questions on the back of this, so will you


please welcome the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott.


APPLAUSE Good afternoon. Let me try that


again, good afternoon! Thank you for inviting me to address you to day.


It is an honour to be here and address you as Shadow Home


Secretary. I know you made a presentation to my colleague, Tobias


Ellwood, MP, this morning but I do want to take a minute to recollect


PC Palmer, Parliament is a village, in a good way and I think that


almost every member of Parliament new PC Palmer eyesight. And so, it


was shocking. Bass Magala new PC Palmer by sight.


It was shocking and holeable the way he died but the way he died with the


police service at its best, running towards danger and doing job. Before


I go on to the bulk of my speech, it may be helpful to introduce myself.


I am the Shadow Home Secretary, but I was born and brought up and


represent parts of London where crime is often higher then it should


be. I know the cost of crime, the fear that stops people, particularly


women, leaving their homes. The loss of property and valuables. The cost


in violence and assault. Particular Unite crime. I will come to later.


The terror that gangs can bring to neighbourhoods. -- particularly


knife crime. The fear of mothers concerned that the children will be


sucked up into that lifestyle. And so I know the value of policing.


Unlike this Government, who I would contend know the price of everything


but the value of nothing. And it is precisely because it is the poorest


communities who suffer the most from crime and violence than any


progressive politician should take the fight against crime and violence


very seriously indeed. Some of you would say, if she knows so much how


come she fumbled the Nick Ferrari interview? You see, I can read




I would only ask as to which is more newsworthy. Diane Abbott fluffs a


line in a radio interview, or the fact that homicide is rising and


continues to rise. I would argue, and this may come as a shock to some


of you, I would argue that the Tories, whether in Government on


their own as they have been since 2015, or leading the coalition from


2010 until 2015, have not been good for policing. They say they are the


party of law and order, but I put it to you, would a real party of law


and order cut over 20,000 police officers and staff? Would a real


party of law and order leave police forces overstretched? And would a


real party of law and order cut the police budgets in cash terms? I


would remind you that the Tories pledged to protect police budgets in


real terms but instead they have cut it in real terms. They are cutting


it even in cash terms. And inflation will cut away at real spending


power. And if they are allowed to carry out their plans, this would


almost certainly mean further job losses, erosion of pensions and cuts


to real pain. I think you deserve better. The Labour Party thinks you


deserve better. You have heard from Tory politicians at this conference


and you will hear tomorrow about their support for the police, but I


would argue their speeches say one thing but there are cuts to funding


the another. Tory austerity has hit policing as much as the NHS or


education and other parts of the public sector, and in the long run I


believe that Tory austerity and Tory cuts to the police budget may prove


even more damaging to the public than the cuts to the NHS and


education are proving now. We know that in this financial year the


police grant will be ?682 million lower than the grant three years


ago. This is not the action of a party that genuinely puts policing


first or fighting crime first. Now, Tory ministers like to see that cuts


to the NHS and education have no consequences. We all know that that


is not true. You can go into A any Saturday night and see the long


waits, the people there, for whom there are no beds, lie on trolleys


or even parked up ambulances. Schools up and down the country are


going to lose staff and facilities because of cuts. And the same is


true of policing. Cutting back on policing budgets is not a no cost


economy. It has consequences. It has consequences for police officers and


staff in real time, and it has consequences I believe in terms of


the rate of crime. You will have heard that one of the Labour Party's


policies is that we want to bring in 10,000 more community police and


women -- policemen and women. We do not think that is all that needs to


be done, but that singles our intent to make good the of that promise. We


know this because that is what the office of research tells us. Theresa


May both as Home Secretary and as Prime Minister, under Theresa May,


the police had more cuts... And although overall crime


numbers may be flat or falling the most serious crimes, gun crime,


knife crime, assault, they are going up. In the Met gun crime has gone by


42%, and knife crime by. Alongside that -- knife crime by 24%.


Alongside that there's been a fall in the numbers of summons and


charges for gun crime, knife crime and hate crime. You don't have to


believe me. In March, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary said


"Policing in England and Wales is in a potentially perilous state, as


Government cuts lead to investigations being shelved,


vulnerable victims being let down, and tens of thousands of potentially


dangerous subjects at large." It continues, "We have seen a tendency


to downgrade emergency calls to justify a slow response, a tendency


to reclassify domestic abuse, and ad hoc rationing as forces adapt to


austerity." That is what the Inspectorate of Constabulary said in


March, and Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, head of the


Association of England and Wales, said there are now 34,000 fewer


staff working in policing than there were in 2010. Including over 19,000


fewer police officers. Your own chair of the federation said the


federation has been pointing out the pitfalls of continually taking the


axe to police budgets, and we have warned it will hurt the very people


we are pledged to protect, members of the public. Your chair has also


said, "Police personnel have endured 15% in real terms pay cut in recent


years, which has led to an exodus of experienced officers were quitting


the front line for safer, better paid jobs in the private sector."


And, you know, I have spoken about the direct effect of austerity and


cuts on policing, but there is also an indirect effect of austerity and


cuts on policing. The more local authorities are obliged to cut


housing services, obliged to cut mental health services, obliged to


cut social work budgets, it ends in police officers being the social


service of last resort. It does not deal with underlying social issues,


it shifts costs, wastes resources, and highly skilled police officers.


It is a false economy. As I said earlier, it is striking to me that


this Government, who claim to be the party of law and order, have also


presided over a rise in recorded crime. Now, whenever anybody says


that particularly a Labour politician, Tory politicians jump up


and say this is all due to better recording by the police. There is


better recording, but the rise in recorded crime is not just due to


better paperwork. There were 697 homicides in England and Wales in


2016, an increase of 9% compared to 2010-11, up from 21% in 2015. It is


serious, shocking and the rise in the homicide rate can't possibly be


due just to better recording. This is what the official statisticians


said on this rise. There appear to be smaller but genuine increases in


some of the lower volume but high harm categories of police recorded


violence including homicide and knife crime. But ministers are in


denial about this - they cannot accept their policies overall and


their policies on crime and policing have led to this. But they have.


Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting is not policy. It is no


way to conduct the serious business of Government. Now, we all make


mistakes. You may have heard I have made one or two back myself over the


years, but as I said earlier. What is more newsworthy? Me fluffing a


line or the rate of homicide? An interviewer tripping up at Labour


spokesperson, or the fact that over 20,000 police officers and staff had


been cut? The reality is that all the sound and fury on this signifies


nothing. It is simply designed to obscure the real facts. Under the


Tories, police in Britain have been cut. The promises to protect the


police budget have been broken, and crime is higher, including the most


serious crimes which cause the most feared to the public. Our pledge on


policing is straightforward. We will restore 10,000 police officers to


the police forces in England and Wales. This is the equivalent of an


extra police officer in every ward in the country. This is not a total


answer to rebuilding after the Tory cuts but it is the beginning and it


is a pledge of intent. This pledge follows from our beliefs. We


strongly believe two things. Fewer police officers means police that


necessarily are more remote to the public. It means police who will


tend to be either the social worker of last resort or a force that


rushes in when the situation is close to or beyond breakdown. Fewer


police officers means less effective policing, and also potentially means


more police officers putting themselves in harm's way. The reason


we are talking about community police officers is we want to


rebuild the link between the police forces and the communities they


serve. Together, we believe they can be the eyes and ears of the


community, to check everything from anti-social behaviour and vandalism


through to drug dealing and even the emerging issues relating to


terrorism. In this country, we have a proud history of policing by


consent. But if the blue line is stretched too thin, the link to the


community is endangered. We want to confirm that link, we want to build


and rebuild community policing. Our policy of bringing 10,000 more


community policemen and women will be fully funded, it will be paid for


by reversing the Tory cuts, we believe it is simply not right that


those who make money simply by owning property or speculating on


the markets pay even less tax but ordinary people are paying more tax


and suffering worst public services such as policing. The Government


says there is no money. After making all of its tax giveaways to the


rich. If you ever wondered, those of you of curious disposition, why the


media treats policies like this with such hostility, ask yourself


something like this Mrs Merton question, why are the billionaires


who own Britain's media so hostile to policies were billionaires a more


tax? To fund services for ordinary people. Put it like that and the


question answers itself. You know why, I know why, they don't want to


pay more tax and they do not seem to understand the need of the public


for visible police officers and more police officers on the beat. People


with their own bodyguards and Private security teams, gated


housing, generally they are not big fans of paying for ordinary


policing, but Labour's policing policy is for the many, not the few.


All my political life I've campaigned against discrimination


and forcible liberties and I continue to campaign for the


importance of more women police officers. -- and civil liberties. I


congratulate the police on the progress that they have made up to


date. I am a strong advocate of body warned police cameras, I believe


they represent a win- win for the police and the public. They bring


bluer Sunni fewer complaints against the police when they are and greater


public confidence in the police. -- they bring complaints against the


police. A small investment in technology can lead to huge savings


in reducing wasted police time. Before I conclude my remarks I


wanted to talk about something which is a particular issue in our great


cities and that is the rise in knife crime. There has been a frightening


rise in knife crime in cities like London, in London alone 13 people


have died from knife crime in the three weeks. I support the lease


Commissioner's determination to act. I support the mess Derry


undoubtedly, we need more. We need to collect proper data on victims


and predators. We need to look into whether the mental health issues


involved. We need to establish, beyond question, the links where


they exist between knife crime and gang crime. I think there should be


an anonymous hotline in all our great cities where people that have


evidence, or knowledge, of people carrying knives or weapons can ring


in anonymously. We need to look at what works in cities like New York.


Let me say this, I was with my brother commanded just the other day


and when talking about this issue. -- I was with my bullock Amanda.


When you look at the pictures of the knives and swords that people are


carrying around, nobody can put and they carry those knives in their


back pocket to peel an apple. We're talking about knives which procured


and carried around to make terrible damage and mutilation to the human


body. I am in favour of all the steps we can take to make a decisive


move against the rise in knife crime. Finally, I would like to


speak to the theme of the conference, protecting the


protectors will stop I was proud that my first debate as Shadow Home


Secretary in the House of Commons to Secretary in the House of Commons to


lead the debate on assaults against the police. There were some amazing


speeches not least by my friend Holly he was coming on to speak


later. We live in a time when people assault and abuse public servants in


a way which was not thought of when I was growing up. Not just the


police, ambulance men and women, people that work in ANA. On the


point of view of protecting the protectors.


# People that work in A The police in particular, because you


are people who put yourself in harms way to protect society. I believe


there should be a change in legislation, tougher sentences, I


believe there should be batted training and access to equipment. I


believe we need more accurate data on police assault and I believe we


need to improve welfare support. Finally, I would like to conclude


with the central message. Labour stands for better policing, because


policing, more effective policing, policing, more effective policing,


and more policing. The police serve the entire community and that is


right. The people that suffer most from rising crime ordinary working


people, they are the ones who benefit most from effective


policing, the Tories cut police numbers and broke the pledge. We


will restore the minimal number of 10,000, and with the focus on


community policing. I believe, and I've always believed there was no


contradiction between valuing law and order and wanting to see more


police on the beat and upholding Civil Liberties. Policing by consent


means more effective policing and this is what Labour wants. This is


what Labour would deliver in office. As a previous Labour leader, John


Smith said, I think it was the night before he died, the chance to serve


is all we ask. We stand for the many not the few, whether this policing


and crime or the economy or housing or the NHS. So, with thank you very


much for taking the time to hear what I have to say. Thank you.


APPLAUSE I know that Diane will stay with us


for a few questions, as well. Thank you to the Shadow Home Secretary. We


have some questions coming in. Just a point on that 10,000 figure. I


will ask you what it costs? You have clearly been through all of that.


Who came with the number? What was the thinking behind it. It wasn't


that we think the police needs 10,000 extra police officers, it


seemed to is a doable number, given the resources. We will be recruiting


over for five-year period. In the end, the decision as to how many in


different parts of the country will be a matter of the Chief constables


and PCC 's. On that point, this comes from Paul who says, I will


come to that one second... This from Simon who says, Diane Abbott why do


not support police forces using spit gods? You now have a great


opportunity to set the record straight. You have been vocal about


this in the past. Well, I have been looking at the evidence in relation


to spit gods. They continued to look at the evidence in relation to them.


I have never said I'm against them in principle. But, like any fresh


equipment or power, I want to see the evidence as to what they would


do in particular in relation to the health risks that many... Can I help


you out, I'm not an aspect on this, I think the theory is that if


someone spits in your face use the spit gods stop them that.


APPLAUSE -- you use the spit guardss. I was


talking about health, statistically. One of the groups I have consulted


with the group that represent sufferers from hepatitis C and the


groups that work with HIV sufferers. They are not, they argue that you do


not catch hepatitis C or HIV... That is what they say. That is why say


I'm looking that the recess. It is about checking whether that person


beforehand is... It is about looking at the research and coming to a


considered view. I have to tell you, particularly the people that


represent people with hepatitis C, they are concerned that there is an


assumption that you can catch edge it by someone spitting at you. Does


not will about that, is it? When you are in the sort of environment...


APPLAUSE It is not a medical assessment at


that moment, it is a riot situation, and arrest situation, where someone


is kicking off in a way that you need to somehow restrain them a


number of different methods. That would be one of them. We will hear


the story in the next session about what happened to a police officer in


this very scenario. Police officers look at this piece of kit is


something that is very helpful. But, we know that the Metropolitan Police


are still looking into it. They have something going on in London.


Something I make here is the result of the trial. A question from Paul,


the one I was going to ask, has anyone asked the question about


whether is the 10,000 more police are police officers or community


support officers? Police officers. Any extra community support


officers? Well, my Shadow Chancellor tomorrow is going to give a detailed


presentation of our manifesto together with costings, but I would


be above my pay grade now promising view anything other than 10,000


extra police officers. OK. Let's get a question from the floor. Things


are coming, today. My name is Mark I'm from Somerset died in the bottom


bit of the country. -- down in the bottom bit of the country.


LAUGHTER Two things, I want to reiterate what a win is just said,


spit guards are not about the contagious effect of being spat on,


it is about being spat on. It is something to protect us from being


assaulted by Lee. Any consideration you give that in the future, it is


not about contracting something it is but not being spat on. If you


could bear that in mind I would appreciate that.


APPLAUSE The second point I would like to


ask, I'm putting you on this but I don't apologise for that. As Shadow


Home Secretary, or Home Secretary, will you hear today commits to was,


we'd already had today the difficulties around the changing of


legislation to protect urgency drivers... Adding catch that?


Urgency drivers. We have no protection in laws when we drive our


police cars with sirens on, I would like to commit to data was that you


would seek to address that to offer us protection. Get the protectors.


Can you do that? I was certainly undertake to look at how the Labour


Party, whether in government, I hope, or in opposition, can alter


the legislation to give police divers the protection they need. A


statement of intent from you then? That is what I call a statement of


intent. Your stamen and then? Thank you. He was a question from Adam


from Norfolk. Does he -- does Diane Abbott believe that the increase in


knife crime result from the decrease in stop and search? You been vocal


on stop and search in the past, as well what are your thoughts on the


correlation between those two? I live in a border, Hackney, where


I've worked closely with my border I've worked closely with my border


commander on these issues and in Hackney we have managed to bring


Pringle levels of prosecution. I Pringle levels of prosecution. I


believe, there is a strong case for more use of evidence -based stop and


search in relation to knife crime. The well community groups that are


calling through it. But, I've always been a sceptic of random stop and


search, which set in the past identified relatively small amounts


of criminal activity. And had a poor effect on police community


relations. However, with the current crisis in knife crime and with some


community organisations calling for more targeted stop and search, that


is something I am happy to look at. I am told we only have time for one


more question which was just going in order of who was first out of the


traps on the last one remaining. I'm from Nottinghamshire Police, in


relation to spit guards, everything that goes with them, the key point


you are missing is health and safety piece of equipment. If you of stroke


that, expect a lawsuit to sit on your lap when it lands. I am aware,


if I wasn't aware, I've got that sense from the audience today, that


spit codes is a complex subject. There is health and safety, there is


health, there was a whole range of issues, but your question is about


if the government, or the Met to Poulton police, because they are the


first major police force that will allow spit huts, which will


potentially allow them... Sally? Well, they are in use. Sorry? If the


Mets police allow spit huts across the Metropolitan Police area or they


refuse to, then they may find themselves subject to lawsuits, I


will certainly take that back to the Metropolitan Police. If they did not


understand it and show it will inform the thinking going forward.


Finally... OK. Finally, it was a pleasure to come here, it's a


pleasure to hear your views on a range of issues, and as I said right


at the beginning, what ever other parties may say to you about being


the party of law and order, you need the party of law and order, you need


to compare the record an police funding and reflect on the reality


of that claim. Thank you, very much. Sorry, can I bring in a question on


the front. I think it is in the two... Chairman of the Metropolitan


Police Federation. I served in the borough next to yours for 25 years.


I do not know where you are getting your facts and figures on around the


spit guards. I've done huge amount of work and I will gladly sit down


with you. If you look at the last Notting Hill Carnival, 82 of my


colleagues were injured 16 had it Hospital, so I find it quite amazing


some of the things you are there and saying. This is an on the spot


requirement. Please, we need them. Final words, Diane Abbott.


APPLAUSE My final word this, I understand


your point of view the point of view of thousands of officers opened down


the country and that is why I am working closely with them the and


his deputy mayor, who was in charge of policing on this issue. They are


doing the pilots, they will come to a conclusion and I will be guided by


the conclusions of that Pilate. Shadow Home Secretary, Diane added.


Thank you very much indeed. APPLAUSE