MP Wes Streeting joins Redbridge Police on shift to get a taste of life on the frontline
- Credit: Wes Streeting
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting swapped the corridors of Westminster for the streets of Ilford when he joined police officers for their shift yesterday morning.
As part of the London-wide Walk the Met campaign, Mr Streeting spent four hours with officers to learn a little more about what faces them in their day-to-day work trying to keep the borough safe.
“Actually I really enjoyed the experience,” he told the Recorder.
“It was great not only to get a snapshot of what life is like for the police in Redbridge but to also just spend a few hours talking to the officers I was with and learning what they’ve experienced.
“I’m just glad it was one of the officers behind the wheel when we were responding to the blue lights because I really wouldn’t want to be the one driving a car that’s bombing through traffic on Redbridge and Gants Hill roundabouts.”
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During the course of his ridealong, Mr Streeting was first called to an eviction where bailiffs had been threatened before later being responding to reports of an acid attack that turned out to be a hoax.
It wasted the time of two London ambulance crews and the police officers at the scene.
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He said: “I wouldn’t say the experience has changed my perception of the borough, but it’s definitely provided me with a keener insight into the problems our officers are facing.”
Chief among them is the pilot scheme which would see Redbridge Police combined with Barking and Dagenham and Havering’s police services in a bid to increase efficiency.
“I think there is a concern that there are going to be quite radical changes,” said Mr Streeting.
“And there is some fear that, in the way Redbridge’s current resources are drained into Ilford town centre to the detriment of other areas, that could begin to happen across the three boroughs.
“I’m glad we’re taking part in the trial, because it means Redbridge gets a say in how the proposals can be formed and changed, but I think we have to make sure the changes made are, as far as possible, only improvements.”
The 33-year-old MP was also critical of newly-announced plans from the national college of policing to only recruit degree-holders from 2019.
“I’m sceptical and I think we have to make sure everyone looks at these plans really closely,” he said.
“We currently recruit excellent people into our policing, and many of them do not have degrees but have bucklet loads of common sense, the right attitude and transferable skills.
“To suddenly turn around and say ‘we will only recruit people educated to degree-level’ seems like just another way of this government trying to make money from people.”