People are ‘fed up’ of ‘virtue-signalling’ police officers and would rather see them catch burglars, one of Britain’s most senior police chiefs has said.
Stephen Watson, the new chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) warned officers who display their personal views that they risked undermining the police’s impartiality and could sabotage prosecutions.
He said empathy with the public is important and some movements are ‘very difficult to disagree with’, but tactics such as taking the knee and running ‘florid social media accounts’ were ‘cack handed’.
Some officers were seen to kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters last year, while forces around the country have spent tens of thousands of pounds on rainbow-coloured Pride merchandise over the past few years.
Asked whether he would take the knee in uniform, Mr Watson told The Daily Telegraph: ‘No, I absolutely would not. I would probably kneel before the Queen, God, and Mrs Watson, that’s it.’
The 52-year-old, who started his role last month, said the GMP is ’embracing and engaging’ Manchester’s vibrant LGBT community but that he draws the line at ‘officers putting rainbows on their epaulettes and wearing rainbow shoelaces’.
The GMP is effectively in special measures after a watchdog revealed it had failed to properly record 80,000 crimes.
Mr Watson said he hopes to rebuild public confidence by sending officers to every burglary and investigating every crime, vowing to quit the force if it is not in a ‘demonstrably better place’ in two years.
He told the newspaper: ‘Impartiality is in danger of being upset in our urge and desire to demonstrate that we would like to make common cause from time to time with people whose agenda is very difficult to disagree with.
‘I do not think that things like taking the knee, demonstrating that you have a commonality of view with the protesters that you’re policing is compatible with the standards of service that people require of their police.
‘Officers could put themselves in a difficult place because if you demonstrate you’re not impartial, and you then have to make an arrest, how on earth do you assist the courts to come to just judgement as to you having executed your powers of arrest in an appropriately impartial professional manner?”
Mr Watson, who avoids social media as a way to boost his own profile, told the paper: ‘I think we’re past the high watermark.
‘The public are getting a little bit fed up of virtue-signalling police officers when they’d really rather we just locked up burglars.’
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