Diane Abbott Election 2017


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

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please welcome the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott.

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APPLAUSE Good afternoon. Let me try that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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was shocking. Bass Magala new PC Palmer by sight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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communities who suffer the most from crime and violence than any

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progressive politician should take the fight against crime and violence

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

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

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minds! LAUGHTER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Government cuts lead to investigations being shelved,

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

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

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

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

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

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March, and Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, head of the

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

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

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

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federation has been pointing out the pitfalls of continually taking the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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that particularly a Labour politician, Tory politicians jump up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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violence including homicide and knife crime. But ministers are in

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denial about this - they cannot accept their policies overall and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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strongly believe two things. Fewer police officers means police that

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

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

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

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police officers means less effective policing, and also potentially means

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

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we are talking about community police officers is we want to

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rebuild the link between the police forces and the communities they

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

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

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through to drug dealing and even the emerging issues relating to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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those who make money simply by owning property or speculating on

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

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and suffering worst public services such as policing. The Government

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

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

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media treats policies like this with such hostility, ask yourself

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something like this Mrs Merton question, why are the billionaires

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

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

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

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

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

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with their own bodyguards and Private security teams, gated

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

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

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All my political life I've campaigned against discrimination

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and forcible liberties and I continue to campaign for the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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speak to the theme of the conference, protecting the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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point of view of protecting the protectors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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people, they are the ones who benefit most from effective

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

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

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

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contradiction between valuing law and order and wanting to see more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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APPLAUSE I know that Diane will stay with us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:23:54.:24:00.

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

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

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

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APPLAUSE -- you use the spit guardss. I was

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

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with the group that represent sufferers from hepatitis C and the

:24:30.:24:35.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:25:07.:25:09.

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

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

:25:16.:25:19.

APPLAUSE It is not a medical assessment at

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

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

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

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

:25:37.:25:42.

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

:25:43.:25:46.

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

:25:47.:25:51.

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

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

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

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

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support officers? Police officers. Any extra community support

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

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presentation of our manifesto together with costings, but I would

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:26:54.:26:56.

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

:26:57.:27:01.

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

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could bear that in mind I would appreciate that.

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APPLAUSE The second point I would like to

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

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

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

:27:22.:27:25.

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

:27:26.:27:32.

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

:27:33.:27:36.

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

:27:37.:27:41.

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

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

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

:27:53.:27:55.

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

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

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

:28:09.:28:15.

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

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

:28:25.:28:29.

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

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

:28:33.:28:36.

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

:28:37.:28:41.

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

:28:42.:28:45.

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

:28:46.:28:51.

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

:28:52.:28:56.

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

:28:57.:29:00.

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

:29:01.:29:03.

search, which set in the past identified relatively small amounts

:29:04.:29:13.

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

:29:14.:29:16.

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

:29:17.:29:22.

community organisations calling for more targeted stop and search, that

:29:23.:29:27.

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

:29:28.:29:31.

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

:29:32.:29:40.

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

:29:41.:29:46.

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

:29:47.:29:52.

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

:29:53.:29:57.

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

:29:58.:30:05.

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

:30:06.:30:10.

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

:30:11.:30:16.

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

:30:17.:30:20.

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

:30:21.:30:26.

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

:30:27.:30:33.

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

:30:34.:30:43.

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

:30:44.:30:47.

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

:30:48.:30:54.

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

:30:55.:30:57.

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

:30:58.:31:05.

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

:31:06.:31:08.

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

:31:09.:31:16.

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

:31:17.:31:18.

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

:31:19.:31:27.

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

:31:28.:31:31.

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

:31:32.:31:37.

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

:31:38.:31:41.

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

:31:42.:31:46.

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

:31:47.:31:50.

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

:31:51.:31:55.

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

:31:56.:31:59.

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

:32:00.:32:03.

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

:32:04.:32:08.

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

:32:09.:32:15.

APPLAUSE My final word this, I understand

:32:16.:32:22.

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

:32:23.:32:26.

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

:32:27.:32:33.

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

:32:34.:32:38.

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

:32:39.:32:45.

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

:32:46.:32:48.

Thank you very much indeed. APPLAUSE

:32:49.:32:52.