Liz Truss faced fresh criticism as the ballot to pick the UK’s next prime minister closed, with a police chief describing her policies on law and order as “meaningless”.
Chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police Richard Lewis, said that while some of the leadership frontrunner’s proposals might make “attractive headlines”, such ideas are “meaningless without further explanation from the Tory leadership hopeful”.
“Police performance is complex, and, despite Truss’s view that chief constables of “failing forces” should appear before the national policing board (a meeting that does not enjoy legal status) to account for poor outcomes, well-established methods to improve underperforming forces already exist through the police performance oversight group,” he said.
“There is also an inherent contradiction between Truss’s call for government intervention on the performance of any given police force and the localised role of police and crime commissioners (a Conservative creation, after all).”
Mr Lewis added that he thought the “judgement on whether or force is failing” could not be reduced “to an apparent inability to cut crimes such as homicide by 20%”.
Ms Truss announced her policing proposals in July, and faced sharp criticism they were ‘incoherent’.
She said her government would publish “league tables” to show how each of the 43 forces in England and Wales are performing against national trends, and that the chief constables of those deemed to be underperforming would have to explain themselves to ministers.
Her campaign team also took a swipe at chief constables, sending reporters a quote claiming that they were “not cracking down as hard as they should be”, threatening to deepen a rift that has grown during Priti Patel’s time as home secretary.
Policing sources said officers were sick of being used as a “political football” at a time when recorded crime stands at a record high, and prosecutions at a record low.
Simon Foster, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner, told The Independent at the time: “Instead of attacking chief constables they should be given the resources they need.”
The latest criticism comes as speculation grows about what the early days of a Truss government might look like, with reports that as prime minister she could quickly move to lift the ban on fracking.
With only days left until the winner of the Tory leadership race is announced, Ms Truss remains the overwhelming favourite to succeed Boris Johnson.
Polling in the contest closed at 5pm on Friday, as the Conservative Party said that nearly 20,000 members attended the hustings and a total of 2.2 million people viewed a husting online.