More money needs to be put into fighting inequality to curb crime, said the first woman policeman with the Merseyside police force, arguing that “the police are a bigger partner [in society] than just imprisoning the bad people ”.
Serena Kennedy, who took on the role last month, said she agreed with her predecessor who said if he were given £ 5bn to reduce crime he would get £ 1bn in law enforcement and £ 4bn in the fight against poverty stuck.
Andy Cooke did that unusually frank comments on the relationship between deprivation and insult when he stepped down with the force after 36 years, the last 11 under a Conservative government accused of widening inequality.
In her first few weeks in that role, Kennedy endorsed his comments, stating that she wanted to make crime prevention a priority by working with partners to “investigate and address the root causes of crime.”
“I agree with Andy. Merseyside has massive inequalities in terms of where our communities are in terms of the nature of the poverty gap. “
She pointed to academic research showing that post-Covid inequality is likely to worsen in northwest England.
“For me, this inequality means that people’s aspirations, their expectations and their chances in life are influenced. So we should definitely work with our partners to investigate these causes, ”added Kennedy.
Comparing government health papers showing that investing in prevention would mean less spending in the long run on diseases such as obesity, Kennedy said the same is true from a police perspective in terms of the cost of prosecuting people. “It’s cheaper, but that’s not why, it’s because you’re giving that person a better chance in life.”
I will quote Robert Peels first Principle of policing Kennedy said policing is an integral part of community safety. “One of my priorities is the relentless pursuit of those criminals who tarnish the lives of our communities and target the vulnerable. Absolutely, that is our role, but we need to play a role with our partners in the earlier intervention and change the inequalities that will only worsen. “
Some might interpret Kennedy and Cooke’s comments to be in line with a key demand made by Black Lives Matters protesters who have made calls “Defund the Police” by transferring funds from the criminal justice system to health, social and educational systems. In response, Kennedy said, “It wasn’t just about taking money away from the police, it would require a fundamental change in the way you use resources in the area.”
Again citing a preventive approach, she used the example of assigning every child in a school a place in a breakfast club, rather than just specific children, to improve bonding and reaching. “To do this, the long-term benefits must be recognized across the public sector. Education, policing, social welfare, housing … It’s not a political statement, it’s just a mind-set about how we fund our services, “she said.
Kennedy began her career with the Greater Manchester Police Department in 1993 and joined Merseyside four years ago as the deputy chief of police. She rose to the rankings and is among the 29.4% of women police chiefs in England and Wales. Amid renewed debate about institutional sexism in policingShe said that in her 28 years of service she had never seen what she would consider misogyny, but admitted that some of her colleagues had a different experience.
With a reputation for fighting organized crime, one of the force’s key ongoing operations is the investigation into fraud, bribery, corruption and misconduct in public office, which has resulted in the arrest of about a dozen people, including the former mayor. He has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. Does it take courage to go through an operation that has resulted in some very high profile arrests and throws? Liverpool in political unrest? Kennedy will only say that the force “will always investigate allegations of crime” when there are allegations of crime.