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Election advice under review to avoid impartiality rows


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Police forces are set to get clear guidance on staying impartial ahead of the December 12 poll.

Boris Johnson visited Hendon this week to see training of new recruits

Boris Johnson visited Hendon this week to see training of new recruits

Date - 5th November 2019
By - Chris Smith
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The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will issue advice to every police force to ensure they avoid becoming embroiled in rows involving candidates and political parties.

With volatile polls and a major focus expected on law and order issues, policing will be an issue that politicians look to capitalise on.

There has already been one major row after prime minister Boris Johnson made a political speech while standing in front of new police recruits at West Yorshire Police’s training centre.

The chief constable John Robins issued a combative statement at the time saying he was "disappointed" that his officers had been pulled into politics.

As a result of the recent controversies, the NPCC is re-drafting its guidance for officers but this will come after the formal campaign begins tomorrow.

Until then, forces are being advised to use the guidance issued for the 2017 general election which “does not attempt to cover every eventuality” but sets out the principles “to help individuals make decisions”.

The biggest challenge will be independent candidates who do not have the resources of major parties and may seek endorsement – or may imply it - from senior local figures in their promotional material or social media.

The guidance says: “Some candidates seeking election will do so with the backing of major political parties and are well aware of the limitations placed upon both them as candidates, and the police service as a public body.  It is possible that not all candidates will be similarly experienced.” 

It warns officers to be aware that the value of police officers is a huge to candidates hoping to take a seat in Westminster: “All force personnel should ensure that they are aware of the need for impartiality and that any interaction, no matter how small, could be used to show support for or opposition to a candidate, a party or a position.” 

After the Primime Minister's West Yorkshire Police training school speech Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, who is head of the civil service, was asked by MPs to investigate. His advice was: “There should have been a clearer delineation between the government policy aspects (concerning police recruitment) and political content.”

The prime minister visited the police training centre in Hendon this week and was photographed with Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick at a self-defence class two days ago.

The announcement of 20,000 new recruits will be a central issue in the election campaign and this will place police forces in the spotlight.

View On Police Oracle

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