On her first day at office, Britain Home Secretary Priti Patel approvesrecruitment of 20,000 additional cops

LONDON:Priti Patel, Britain’s first Indian-origin Home Secretary, began her new job on Friday by putting into action the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit 20,000 additional police officers on the streets of the country.

Johnson had made this a central promise in his very first speech on the steps of Downing Street earlier this week, just hours before he charged Patel with the new security brief.

“As I said on the steps of Downing Street this week, my job as Prime Minister is to make our streets safer,” said Johnson in a Downing Street statement on Friday.

“People want to see more officers in their neighbourhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime. I promised 20,000 extra officers and that recruitment will now start in earnest,” he said.

The new prime minister says he wants that recruitment completed over the next three years, with Patel set to chair a new national policing board to oversee the process.

“The rise we’ve seen in serious violence is deeply worrying. An additional 20,000 officers sends a clear message that we are committed to giving police the resources they need to tackle the scourge of crime,”said the new minister in charge of the UK Home Office.

“This is the start of a new relationship between the government and the police working even more closely together to protect the public,” she added.

In addition, the Home Office said Johnson-led government will urgently review the pilot which makes it simpler for officers to use stop and search powers, with a view to rolling this out across all forces as part of ongoing work to tackle serious violence.

In April, seven forces across Britain started a trial with relaxed conditions on the use of Section 60 of the UK’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which allows them to stop and search suspected individuals.

“The Prime Minister has been clear he fully supports the police’s use of stop and search to tackle and disrupt those carrying knives,” the Home Office said.

As the new Home Secretary, Patel will be in charge of not only the UK’s security and policing but also visa and immigration policies.

She has long argued for a points-based immigration system, something Johnson confirmed will be among his priorities in his first address to the UK Parliament as Prime Minister.

“For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points based system. And today I will actually deliver on those promises – I will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of that system as the first step in a radical rewriting of our immigration system,” he said.

This will be another key task for Patel to oversee.

It remains to be seen how much a new immigration strategy would vary from that finalised under the previous Theresa May-led government when Sajid Javid had launched a White Paper on a skills-based post-Brexit visas and immigration strategy as then Home Secretary.

The proposals, which were to be phased in from December 2021 at the end of a proposed transition period for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU, were claimed to level the UK’s immigration playing field with the end of free movement for people from within the 28-member economic bloc.