The chief constable of England’s third-largest police force says officers must quit “virtue-signaling” on social media and get back to work.
Stephen Watson took over as Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in May 2021, after the force’s placement in special measures in December 2020.
Mr Watson had blamed the force’s troubles on a “failure of senior leadership” and vowed a “dialled up muscularity” in his approach to crime, culminating in GMP’s removal from special measures last month.
The chief constable, who is regarded as an ‘old school’ police chief for banning his personnel from wearing visible tattoos while on duty, stated: “Using social media, in these very contested times, requires a particular skill.”
“Actually, reaching out to communities is all too often perceived as virtue signalling.”
The chief constable, who joined Lancashire Constabulary in 1988, said he had looked at officers’ social media and felt they should “get on with being police because that’s what you are paid for.”
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, hailed Mr Watson earlier this month, saying he “rejects woke policing.”
Ms Braverman continued: “Our police officers’ time is precious, and the public wants the police to be tackling crime, not debating gender on Twitter.”
Mr Watson agrees, telling today’s Times: “I think that we are better served by dishing up to the public the things that they have every right to expect of us.”
When Mr Watson took over GMP, he promised the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and other regional political leaders that he would turn the police around by making more arrests, going after major offenders with “real ferocity,” and investigating every crime.
On October 28, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) announced that GMP had been removed from special measures.
The GMP was placed under special measures for the first time after a report found that the force had failed to record 80,000 offences.