After four days in the job, the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, will know by now why so many commentators call it THE most difficult of the great offices of state. Not only has he picked-up an inbox simmering with the backlash over the Windrush scandal, but also with arguments continuing to rage over police cuts, rising knife crime and other law and order issues.
It has been widely reported that Sajid Javid is the first person from a black and minority ethnic background to rise to the top of British politics. He is also the third Home Secretary I have worked with and I look forward to building a constructive relationship. Despite my Independent political status, I always enjoyed good access to the two previous home secretaries Theresa May and Amber Rudd and I hope that will continue.
Born in Rochdale, the son of a bus driver, Sajid Javid said his father arrived in Britain from India in the 1960s with £1 in his pocket. That was why, in just five words, he was able to summarise with humility and sincerity the underserving plight of the Windrush victims when he said: “It could have been me”. One short sentence which showed his empathy with those treated badly by the system and which, I hope, suggests a certain insight into his new job.
I hope it means he would be able to show similar understanding towards the victims of crime and those unwittingly drawn into the criminal justice system. Would he, for instance, be able to empathise with a young person brought up in a home where violence is customary? An environment where drug abuse is normal behaviour? Because those are scenarios that can lead vulnerable people into a spiral of crime and need to be understood before solutions can be found.
I hope too he can start to build a new relationship with the police, perhaps first by appreciating the stresses and strains they are operating under. You can argue whether the years of cuts have contributed to the rise in crime. They’ve certainly done little to combat it.
Not only that, it’s fostered the impression that the Home Office has fallen out of love with the Police, a feeling Mr. Javid’s immediate predecessors did little to discourage.
This article also appeared in the Citizen and Echo