The Home Secretary has ordered a review into how “political activism” among officers including taking the knee is damaging public confidence.
Suella Braverman commissioned His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to look into impartiality and wrote to police chiefs to remind them their “focus should be on tackling crime”.
Braverman added she wants the probe to investigate an “unacceptable rise in police partisanship” and “pandering to politically correct causes”.
Giving examples of the kind of conduct she has concerns about, she told the Daily Telegraph police should not refer to rapists as “she” or “her”, take the knee or dance with protesters.
Announcing the review on Saturday, Ms Braverman said: “The British people expect their police to focus on cutting crime and protecting communities - political activism does not keep people safe, solve crimes or support victims, but can damage public confidence.
“The review I’ve commissioned will explore whether the police getting involved in politically contentious matters is having a detrimental impact on policing. I will leave no stone unturned in ensuring policing acts for the benefit of the British public.”
The Home Secretary, who once railed against the “tofu-eating wokerati”, is regarded as a divisive figure for her remarks on so-called “culture war” issues.
She was previously reported to have intervened over a case in which five officers were sent to seize a collection of golliwog dolls from a pub by reprimanding the force involved.
She told the paper she had “gratitude, admiration and thanks” for the vast majority of officers, but added: “Police deserve respect, they deserve public confidence – but in too many instances that confidence has been eroded and needlessly damaged.”
Her comments come at the end of the Government’s “crime week” of linked announcements – part of its summer recess policy blitz, following so-called “small boats week” and “health week”.
The Police Federation of England and Wales responded to the Home Secretary’s announcement by suggesting the Government wants its members to “act like robots”.
Deputy chairman Tiffany Lynch said: “Policing should never be put on any political agenda and is too important to be kicked around like a political football.
“Our members want to go out there and serve communities in the best way possible, but need help when the Government constantly changes the goal posts.
“One minute they want police officers to be more involved, the next, they want them to act like robots.”
Labour criticised Ms Braverman for commissioning a report “into her own political obsession”, and the Liberal Democrats accused her of using the police “as a weapon in her culture war”.
A Labour spokesman said: “Instead of setting out serious practical policies to tackle Tory failures, all the Home Secretary is doing is commissioning reports into her own political obsessions – and while she’s doing this, more criminals are being let off and more victims are being let down.”
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said: “For the Home Secretary to use the police as a weapon in her culture war while criticising them for being political is a new low – even by her standards.”
The Home Secretary has requested that the findings of the HMICFRS review are published by the end of March next year.
It has been asked to cover matters such as the selection process for groups that are consulted on revisions to policy or process and the involvement of staff networks in formulating policies.