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Police Officer Safety

Part of Community Pharmacies – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Labour, Leigh 5:41 pm, 2nd November 2016

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have always been too lenient on motoring offences, particularly death by dangerous driving.

I was talking about police officers, and they need greater protection in law and in the sentencing guidelines. The Police Federation said today that the sentences that are handed out are often inadequate and inconsistent, and they simply do not provide the strong message that is required. We must resolve across the House to strengthen those sentencing guidelines, and I want to make my support for that absolutely clear.

I will finish on the point of public trust in the police. I believe we are all sent here to challenge injustice wherever we find it. Where we have evidence of it, we have a moral duty to act. Failure to do so corrodes the bond of trust between public and police, and it damages policing by consent. The decision on Orgreave this week was, in my view, wrong, and it makes it harder for the South Yorkshire police to move forward. That decision does not help officers in South Yorkshire who are out there on the frontline, because it leaves a cloud hanging over them.

Let me give the House a quick quote:

“Historical inquiries are not archaeological excavations…
We must never underestimate how the poison of decades-old misdeeds seeps down through the years and is just as toxic today as it was then. That’s why difficult truths, however unpalatable they may be, must be confronted head on”.

I could not agree more with those words—the words of our Prime Minister to the Police Federation this year. She is right, so what has changed? Why are we now pushing away those things and leaving them unresolved?

The Government have made their decision, but this House should make a different decision. I have today advanced the idea, based on the suggestion made by Sir Edward Leigh, that a Select Committee should look at Orgreave. In my view, that is the right thing to do. I appeal to Members from all parts of the House to back that suggestion, so that we can build trust in our police and give them proper funding and protection.