It’s criminal that the Met Police is giving up on burglars – but has 900 ‘anti-hate experts’, writes former Scotland Yard chief PHILIP FLOWER

  • Ex-police chief has backed a refocus of core policing policy across the force 
  • He says it’s about time a police chief talked ‘some common sense’ 
  • Philip Flower said where hate is an aggravating factor in a crime it should be taken into account 


Genuine hate crimes are abhorrent and have no place in a civilised society.

But are hate crimes generally worse than burglary, arson, assault and rape?

Are the psychological injuries suffered by the victims of hate crime worse than the psychological and sometimes physical scars carried by those who have been physically or sexually assaulted, or had their homes ransacked and precious belongings stolen?

Certainly, where hate is an aggravating factor in serious crime it must be taken into account.

But how much investigative effort should our overstretched police forces be expected to invest in dealing with minor verbal or written abuse that someone perceives to be a hate crime?


It is a debate that must be had, which is why I welcome the intervention by Sara Thornton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

As the Mail reports today, Ms Thornton is calling for a ‘refocus on core policing’, for officers to be allowed to prioritise ‘today’s crime’ such as burglary and violence rather than hate crimes such as ‘misogyny’, and historical sex abuse.

It’s about time we heard a police chief speaking common sense because it has been a sorry few weeks for the reputation of the Thin Blue Line.

First, an influential committee of MPs warned that the failure of many forces to cope with everyday offences and to curb violent crime means that policing is at risk of becoming ‘irrelevant’ to many people.

If that wasn’t damning enough, a frontline officer then claimed victims of theft could soon be asked to carry out their own investigations.

At the same time forces are reported to be ‘ignoring’ crimes such as cannabis possession and fuel theft, while the number of targeted ‘stop and searches’ in London — where knife crime is soaring and there have been more than 100 murders this year — has fallen.

Philip Flower has welcomed the interventions of Sara Thornton (pictured) who is the chairman of the National Police Chief’s Council

This national crisis in policing seems to have passed ministers by. How else can one explain the launch yesterday of a £1.5 million publicity campaign focusing on hate crime to ‘reassure those vulnerable’ to it that it is taken seriously?

Meanwhile, my old force, the Met, loudly boasts that it has ‘over 900 specialist hate crime investigators working across London’s dedicated hate crime Community Safety Units’. How much safer that community would be if those 900 officers were returned to the beat.

I’ll say it again. Genuine racial and religious abuse must be clamped down on; likewise abuse on account of someone’s sexuality or gender identity.

But the police are now having to contend with the ludicrous situation by which large numbers of individuals who’ve experienced what can only be classed as perceived slights —wolf whistles, rude jokes, swearing — report their grievances to the police and, because it is policy, officers are compelled to follow them up.

In contrast, when it comes to burglary and assault, police can ‘screen out’ incidences where the chances of identifying the perpetrator or securing a conviction are slim.
Philip Flower has said there needs to be a refocus on core policing

Philip Flower has said there needs to be a refocus on core policing

Police logged a record 94,098 hate crime offences in 2017, up 17 per cent in a year. At the same time, the Office of National Statistics last month reported overall violence rose by 19 per cent in the year to June 2018, while the murder rate increased by 14 per cent and robberies by 22 per cent.

Surely, it is the restoration of law and order to counteract these truly depressing figures for violence, murder and robbery that must be the Government’s top priority.

Ultimately, this means more resources for the police. Cuts imposed on forces since 2010 have undermined the state’s capacity to tackle criminality, with a 20,000 fall in the number of officers.

According to the independent watchdog the National Audit Office, police funding fell in real terms by 19 per cent over the past eight years, compared with a 31 per cent increase between 2001 and 2010.

No wonder so many forces are struggling to cope with even the basics of crime fighting as Simon Kempton, a National Police Federation representative and a Sergeant in the Dorset constabulary, outlined so vividly this week.

At a conference in London, Sergeant Kempton suggested that instead of calling the police, victims of theft should scour websites such as eBay and Gumtree to try to find their belongings, because local police have neither the staff nor the technology to do detective work.
Police officer Simon Kempton outlined that many forces across the country are struggling to cope

Police officer Simon Kempton outlined that many forces across the country are struggling to cope

As a police officer who served for 32 years, latterly as a Chief Superintendent with the Met, this makes me deeply uncomfortable. Urging the public to take the law into their own hands weakens the very foundation of policing. It encourages vigilantism and contempt for authority.

But I do understand Sergeant Kempton’s despair. It illustrates the desperate position the police find themselves in, caused not only by underfunding but also by the ever-growing burden of red tape imposed on them, the posturing of politicians and police chiefs, lenient sentences and soft prison regimes.


Real improvements in police performance could be achieved without additional cash, if there was the will to deal with the destructive influences of intrusive officialdom, wasteful mismanagement and warped political correctness.
Philip Flower said when he was a young constable e would arrest and process a prisoner for theft in about an hour

Philip Flower said when he was a young constable e would arrest and process a prisoner for theft in about an hour

Take excessive paperwork. When I was a young constable I could arrest and process a prisoner for theft in about an hour. Today the same case would take at least a day-and-a-half, so we have the ridiculous situation in which most police officers now spend more time doing paperwork than patrolling the streets.

In the same vein, computer databases, which should be a vital police tool, have been turned into yet another administrative burden.

When the Met introduced the Crime Report Information System in 1992 to store crime reports, I predicted it meant an effective loss of 1,000 officers a year in London alone because so much time would be lost inputting data.

Equally damaging to current policing is the fashionable approach to recruitment, with its emphasis on academic qualifications.

I am disturbed to see long-serving sergeants and constables replaced by fast-tracked, jargon-spouting inspectors and superintendents with neither experience of policing nor an appreciation of the true nature of the job.


We are told this will enhance management skills at senior levels, but that is a deceit. While vital streetwise wisdom has declined, the increase in managerial effectiveness has been negligible.

Just as depressing is the growing politicisation of the police, where the focus has shifted from the protecting the public to propagating a politically correct agenda — such as the new campaign to publicise loosely defined hate crimes.

It is typical of the distorted priorities of our Government and the authorities with their desperate ‘virtue signalling’.

And in the rare cases where criminals are locked up, the state is reluctant to treat them accordingly.

This week we learned that Feltham Young Offenders Institution in West London is spending £36,000 on ‘therapy igloos’, where inmates will have a ‘quiet space’ for ‘sensitive conversations’.

Proof if any more were needed that British law enforcement is in the grip of cowardice where the demands of criminals come before the needs of the law-abiding public.

We need real change. More Government funding would be a start, but to fix our broken policing system we need to facilitate our police officers to concentrate on what they’re best at — policing.