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Suella Braverman ‘confident’ government is ‘on track’ to reach 20,000 police officer target | Politics News

The government is confident it is “on track” to meet its manifesto pledge of recruiting 20,000 new police officers, the home secretary has said.

The promise was made as part of the government’s 2019 manifesto – but critics have pointed out that it has already missed the deadline, which was set for March this year.

Home Office data due to be published later this morning will confirm whether the milestone has been met.

Asking about the issue, Sky News’ Kay Burley suggested that numbers were still below the levels of 2010, when the Conservative-led coalition came to power and introduced cuts to the police force.

Suella Braverman replied: “We’re confident that we’re on track to reach our manifesto pledge of 20,000 new police officers.

“If we achieve that goal, we will be in excess of 2010 numbers.

“We will be at record levels. We will have the highest number of police officers in history in England and Wales.

lllegal Migration Bill to return to the Commons – politics latest

“I think that’s a huge achievement by policing, a huge achievement by the Home Office actually, and actually a great achievement for the British people and public safety.”

She denied that the UK has an “inexperienced police force” due to the pace of recruitment, saying that the government has invested £3bn in the recruitment effort and “proper training” has been delivered.

“Even accounting for attrition and people leaving the force, we are confident we’ll still be in excess of any level we’ve seen before.”

Ms Braverman’s words come before she gives a speech later this morning at the Public Safety Foundation in which she will urge police to stop “pandering to politically correct preoccupations” and focus on “criminal justice, not social justice”.

Ms Braverman told Sky that “while our police officers are brave and excellent on the whole… I think there has been a tendency for the public to grow weary of some of the timewasting behaviour that police have been engaged in”.

“I don’t want police to be involved in debates on social media about gender,” she said.

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Suella Braverman says there is too much political correctness hampering police work

“I don’t want the police to be shying away from tackling really important issues like grooming gangs because of political correctness.”

The home secretary also cited police powers of stop and search – which have been criticised for disproportionately targeting black people – arguing it was “an effective tool to reduce violence and save lives”.

But she said: “In some instances, we’ve seen political correctness get in the way of common sense policing.”

This afternoon MPs will debate and vote on the government’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill, which would prevent anyone arriving in the UK illegally from claiming asylum. Instead, they would be detained and removed, either to Rwanda or another “safe country”.

Charities and human rights organisations have argued the bill is unworkable and could put the UK in breach of international law.

Earlier this week the Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was “seriously concerned” the bill could also expose people to “serious harm”.

Ms Braverman defended the bill this morning, telling Sky News: “People who are coming here illegally are breaking our laws. They are criminals and they don’t have a right to be here.”

Read more:
Is the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill legal?
Home secretary will be able to use ‘discretion’ when considering European human rights orders

Asked about the situation in Sudan and what the government’s response would be if people started arriving on small boats, she said: “There is no good reason for anybody to get into a small boat to cross the Channel in search of a new life in the United Kingdom.”

Asked if refugees will be able to seek asylum in the UK, the home secretary said the correct way to request help is via the UN Refugee Agency.

Ms Braverman also defended the speed of the UK evacuation operation, which has been criticised for being slower than other countries.

The home secretary said “approximately 200-300 people” had been relocated from Sudan in the last few flights from the country.

Defending the speed of the evacuation, Ms Braverman said we have a “larger cohort of British nationals in Sudan compared to many other countries”.

“I’m not going to sit here in a studio in London and dictate what should be happening there on the ground,” she said.

Dan Walker: Presenter ‘confident’ he is not to blame for bike crash | UK News

Broadcaster Dan Walker has said he is “confident that I am not to blame” after he was hit by a car while on his bike earlier this week.

The former BBC Breakfast presenter was struck off his bike on Monday morning while riding on a road in central Sheffield.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the 45-year-old said he “could have died” but confirmed he is unable to remember any details of the accident.

Screengrab from twitter after bike crash. Pics: @mrdanwalker

“There is still nothing there, which a large part of me is very happy about. I can’t go into details at the moment because the police might take another week or so to publish their report but, after talking to Conor (a police officer), I am confident that I am not to blame and I hope this can be resolved outside the courts,” he said.

“I know I could have died but I also know how easy it is to make a mistake, even when you’re trying to be careful.

“I can’t really remember what they (the driver) looked like, from that moment they were looking over me as I came round, but I do recall that they looked deeply distressed and I imagine it is all they are thinking about at the moment.

“That Monday could have been the day that changed their life for ever. I asked Conor if I would be able to talk to the driver if they were OK with that. I’ll let you know what happens.”

Dan Walker posts pictures on his twitter after he was involved in an accident with a car while riding his bike

Presenter hopes to return to work next week

Walker thanked the police, NHS and ambulance services, as well as friends, family and members of the public who helped him following the crash.

He said he has hated “doing nothing” and confirmed he hopes to return to his role as a Channel 5 news anchor next week.

“As long as the swelling and bruising have gone down, I think I will go back to work later this week,” he wrote.

Read more:
Dan Walker warns cyclists after bike crash
Police say ‘enquiries ongoing’ into bike crash which left presenter with bloodied face

Dan Walker posts pictures on his twitter after he was involved in an accident with a car while riding his bike

‘Don’t be a helmet. Wear a helmet’

In several social media posts after the accident Walker has said the helmet he was wearing saved his life.

In his article for The Sunday Times he writes: “If anyone is looking for a new campaign slogan for cyclists, may I humbly suggest the message on some of the flowers which arrived this week: ‘Don’t be a helmet. Wear a helmet.'”

On Wednesday a spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police told Sky News: “No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.”

Walker left the BBC to join Channel 5 last year and took part in the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

BBC chairman Richard Sharp confident he was ‘appointed on merit’ after Boris Johnson loan row | Politics News

Richard Sharp has said there was “no conflict of interest” over his role in helping Boris Johnson secure a loan before being appointed BBC chairman.

He said he is confident he was given the job “on merit” after an investigation was launched into his hiring.

The BBC is also reporting that Mr Sharp has no plans to stand down despite scrutiny of his appointment.

Politics live: Tory party turning on Zahawi

The former banker has confirmed he introduced his close friend Sam Blyth to cabinet secretary Simon Case in late 2020, to discuss whether Mr Blyth could act as a guarantor for a loan facility for Mr Johnson.

The talks took place while Mr Johnson was still prime minister, and while Mr Sharp was in the process of applying to be BBC chair.

In an interview with the broadcaster today, Mr Sharp said that a decision was made by Mr Case that there was no conflict of interest, nor the perception of one.

He said: “Having had a discussion with the cabinet secretary about avoiding a conflict – and the perception of conflict – I felt comfortable and I still feel there was no conflict because at that stage what I was seeking to do was to ensure the process was followed exactly by the book, and that the process hadn’t started, of any kind, in terms of any support that Sam [Blyth] was going to provide to the prime minister.”

Mr Blyth is a multimillionaire Canadian businessman and distant relative of Mr Johnson.

The Sunday Times reported he ended up being a guarantor of a loan of £800,000 to the former PM, who oversaw Mr Sharp’s appointment.

Timeline

November 2020:
According to the Sunday Times the loan guarantee was first suggested by Canadian millionaire Sam Blyth during a dinner with Richard Sharp.

Early December 2020:
In early December, Richard Sharp put Sam Blyth in contact with the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case.

Late 2020:
Before the end of the year, Richard Sharp and Sam Blyth met with Boris Johnson for dinner at his country residence, Chequers. They insist the prime minister’s finances were not discussed.

January 2021:
At the start of January, the government announced Richard Sharp as the preferred candidate to be BBC chairman.

Asked if he thought he had misled a parliamentary committee or the advisory panel which picked him, Mr Sharp said: “No, I don’t.”

He added: “I had clarified and agreed with the cabinet secretary, both of us had the judgment that I’d avoided a conflict or a perception of conflict.”

Pressed on whether the row was an issue at a time when the BBC is making efforts to be impartial and highlight transparency, Mr Sharp told his own news channel: “Well look I see attacks on the BBC all the time, from the media, and for example social media, and they attack our impartiality.

“And I think the governance we put in place is extremely strong on impartiality and I’ll be talking about it later today, precisely because we should be judged by our output. “

The BBC is reviewing any conflict of interests related to Mr Sharp’s role while William Shawcross, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, has opened an investigation into the competition which led to his appointment.

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Johnson says Richard Sharp ‘knows nothing’ about his finances

Labour has also reported Mr Johnson to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, saying the former prime minister’s financial affairs are “dragging the Conservative Party deeper into yet another quagmire of sleaze”.

On Monday, Mr Johnson told Sky News that Mr Sharp “knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances – I can tell you that for 100% ding-dang sure”.

Rishi Sunak, who is under pressure over Tory Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs, has sought to distance himself from the controversy, saying saying Mr Sharp’s appointment was made by “one of my predecessors”.