The new chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Stephen Watson, has said in an interview with the Telegraph that the British public “are getting a little bit fed up of virtue-signalling police officers when they’d really rather we just locked up burglars.”
In the course of the interview he criticises the use of “florid social media accounts” by police forces and “adulterating the uniform with pins and tabs and badges or whatever”.
“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” he added.
The tough new comments point to a serious commitment from Watson to seriously shake things up at Greater Manchester Police, with the new chief constable also vowing to restore more bobbies on the beat.
His comments follow a number of public controversies surrounding opinionated police officers, with this site reporting last month how a Metropolitan Police officer was likely to keep her job after chanting “free Palestine” at a rally while in uniform and on duty.
And in March, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services warned cops against political gestures like taking the knee, with Matt Parr saying: “It is really important that in that context, their activities are seen as neutral. Officers are not there to protest themselves. They should be careful of any actions that could be interpreted as supporting or being against one side in a protest. That would rarely be appropriate for them to do.”
It also follows the victory of Conservative candidate Mark Shelford in the race for Avon & Somerset Police Commissioner last month. Shelford established a reputation as a tough and serious anti-crime candidate, and had slammed Bristol police last summer for letting lawless anarchists run riot on the streets and tear down the monument to beloved local philanthropist Edward Colston.
The events in Bristol last summer were particularly shocking because senior cop Andy Bennett was caught on film following the Colston incident calling for a “big protest”, saying “maybe it’s time the statue is moved”, and winking at a protester.